Disability rights highlighted at Carel du Toit

From left: Tara Odendaal, audiologist at Carel du Toit Centre; Louise Eksteen, Carel du Toit Trust director; MEC for Social Development Sharna Fernandez; Zenobia Helm, Carel du Toit Centre principal; and Kim Plaatjies, Carel du Toit Centre fund-raiser.

In recognition of Disability Rights Awareness Month, the MEC for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, visited the Carel du Toit Centre at Tygerberg Hospital on Friday November 10.

Disability Rights Awareness Month takes place from Friday November 3 to Sunday December 3.

The Carel du Toit Centre provides specialised education and support to children with hearing loss.

“The Carel du Toit Centre and Trust believes that all children have the right to equality and the freedom of speech (expression),” said Zenobia Helm, Carel du Toit Centre principal.

“Children with hearing loss possess the same potential to learn as their typically hearing peers, provided early intervention is initiated. It is ideal to diagnose hearing loss as soon as possible after birth so that intervention can begin,” she said.

Under the theme “Accelerate efforts in realising the inclusion for every child with a disability”, the provincial Department of Social Development focused on children last week.

“Just as we safeguard our human rights so sacredly, let us not forget that persons with disabilities have rights too. It is up to all of us to uphold these rights, and create accessible environments where inclusivity and diversity are top of mind,” said Ms Fernandez.

A statement issued by Monique Mortlock-Malgas, spokesperson for Ms Fernandez, states that the department has allocated R164 million to support non-profit organisations that provide therapeutic and support services.

The Carel du Toit Centre is one of 62 social service organisations supported by the provincial Department of Social Development.

Ms Fernandez was taken on a tour of the centre by audiologist, Tara Odendaal, which included a visit to the CHAT Centre where the assessments are conducted on children. The CHAT Centre is the starting point for families referred to Carel du Toit where they also receive various support services.

“I am so impressed by the incredible work the staff at Carel du Toit do. Meeting children who could barely speak when they first arrived here, who are now lively chatterboxes, fills me with hope,” Ms Fernandez said.

“To the parents and caregivers of children with hearing impairments: you are not alone. There are a range of support services available, do not hesitate to utilise them,” she said.