Royalty at 'Seeing Is Believing' evening
By Farah Ahmadnawi

His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim and Her Royal Highness Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bulqiah were the guests of honour at Standard Chartered Bank's "Seeing Is Believing" celebration last evening at Manggis Mall.

Over 500 guests, including those from the visually-impaired community, turned up for the fund-raising event, which raised a total of $13,910 for the bank's flagship global community programme, "Seeing Is Believing".

The programme is linked with Brunei's Association of the Blind and Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education.

"Standard Chartered Bank has been able to provide assistance to the visually impaired community in Brunei, giving them some light in their lives," said Mr Danny Quah, the CEO of SCB Brunei.

"We also want to help the Brunei community understand why we are so passionate about this cause because visual impairment not only challenges the individual but also affects the person's immediate family or careers."

In an interview with the Weekend Bulletin, Noralizulrainee Ali Yussop, the first visually-impaired education officer in Brunei, noted that the number of visually-impaired students in the country has been increasing each year, the majority of them are individuals with low vision.

"We provide the (visually-impaired) students an alternative reading or writing system," she said, adding that the country has trained teachers to improvise their teachings to cater to the students' needs through the use of Braille and other assistive technology devices.

Noralizulrainee, who was one of the first students to enter Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), shared his experience of being a student in Brunei.

"When I was in university, the only difficulty I had to face was accessing information," he said, adding that back then, there were lack of study materials for students with disabilities. Fortunately, his lecturers were very supportive.

Globally, 45 million people are visually-impaired and the numbers are forecast to jump up to 76 million by 2020, unless preventive measures are taken. Every minute, a child goes blind and 60 per cent die within a year of going blind. Eighty per cent of all cases of blindness can be prevented or cured. - Borneo Bulletin (7th November 2009)