The Athlone School of the Blind in Bellville has for many years helped people with vision disabilities get a proper education.
Its success stories include athletes, businessmen, judges. Now 19-year-old Soraya Eckleton hopes to add her name to that list.
Ms Ecketon, who suffers from renitis pigmentosa, a rare disorder that causes tunnel vision and difficulty seeing at night, is studying law at the University of the Western Cape after matriculating last year.
Last week, her studies got a boost when her old school gave her a laptop with special software that will help her study.
“I was a bit overwhelmed when I got the laptop,” said Ms Ecketon.
“On it, there is a special software that magnifies the text, so I can see clearer and of course get more information. Before I really struggled because with my disorder I basically have no peripheril vision which of course made studying and reading harder to do.”
Ms Ecketon attended the school from Grade 8 after completing her primary schooling at Sarepta Primary in Kuils River.
“I live in the residence here at UWC, and although I enjoy being here, I have found it challenging at times because the place is so big.
A lot of times I come home late from classes, especially if it is at a different venue because I have to physically feel my way around sometimes.
So far, the real struggle has been keeping my head above water, but I am confident that I will soon get used to it and things will get a lot easier.”
Athlone’s fundraiser and administrator, Vera Petersen, said Ms Ecketon had been the top matric pupil at the school in 2018.
“Despite the challenges of her visual impairment, Soraya achieved two distinctions in matric and was publicly recognised for her achievements by the MECs for Education and Social Development. This is why the school decided to raise funds and buy her a laptop with adaptive software to assist her with her studies.”
Ms Ecketon first fell in love with the law while watching the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.
“I remember watching the trial on television, and I was so captivated by the lawyers on either side. The way they spoke and conducted themselves really made me want to be a lawyer one day. Hopefully, one day I will achieve my dreams and practise either family or labour law.”