Experts will meet in Fethiye on Friday 27th February 2009 to discuss issues affecting people with sight problems. It will be followed by a fund raising dinner at the Kemal Kara Restaurant in ơlış.

Experts will meet in Fethiye on Friday 27th February 2009 to discuss issues affecting people with sight problems. It will be followed by a fund raising dinner at the Kemal Kara Restaurant in ơlış.

Blindness and sight loss can impact on any of us. We can be born blind, develop an illness such as Glaucoma or Diabetes, or be injured in an accident. This could happen to friends or family. That is why an organisation, run by sighted, partially sighted and blind people is an essential part of the community, both at local and national level. It can help at times of need and provide support, advice and information.

The Altı Nokta Körler Derneği, (Six Point Society for the Blind) is a national group. The name Altı Nokta means six points and stems from the six raised dots on which the Braille alphabet is based. Founded in 1950 by Mitat En媠a blind doctor and professor from Ankara, the society became a public association in 1958 and now has offices all over Turkey. The Fethiye branch opened in 2000 is run by Mehmet Üstün, who, blind since birth, plays an active role as manager, helping both individuals with sight problems and their families.

Until Ak Party came to power in 2001 there was state funding. This was withdrawn by the government, despite the importance of their work in local communities. Consequently, all financial support has to be raised through local fund raising and contributions; depending on the generosity of the local population. Times are hard and without government support it is difficult to meet expenses for the day to day running of the branch offices and staff, let alone contribute towards outings and programmes for those in need.                                                         

Fortunately the Fethiye branch has the support of the Fethiye Municipality and Beh椴 Saatcı, the Mayor, is doing what he can to assist. However this can only compensate in part for the loss of state funding. To heighten the profile of the society in Fethiye, increase understanding of the issues and encourage inclusivity for those with sight problems, a discussion with a panel of experts in disability and community care has been organised to take place at 13.30 at the Cultural Centre in Fethiye, followed by dinner at Kemal Kara Restaurant in ơlış at 19.00. This will take place on Friday 27th  February 2009.

It does not need a very active imagination to envisage how difficult mobility must be for the blind and visually impaired. Despite laws introduced by the Turkish Parliament in 2005 to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, the majority of buildings  are still totally ‘unfriendly’ for anyone with a disability.  Pavements are haphazard and access to buildings is often by steps that are a challenge to all. Few, if any, signs are in Braille. The legislation stipulates that Turkey must fully comply with the legislation within a seven year time scale.

For those living in Fethiye, this will be an opportunity to take the first tentative steps towards drawing attention to those responsible for building and planning and the public in general, eventually making for an inclusive and disability-friendly town.

Apart from making public buildings and spaces safely accessible for people with sight loss, Six Points arrange outings for those who are very often kept at home and also help with books and newspapers for the blind. Computers with speech software and other technology are important for blind or visually impaired students and professionals, and fund raising to help with this kind of equipment is also an important part of the society’s work.

Anyone wishing to come to the dinner on 27th February can obtain tickets by going to FETAV, Fethiye Belediyesi/Town Hall, Zabita Mudürü/Manager or Altı Nokta Körler Derneği’s office in Cumhurriyet Mah. Dispenser Cad, 23 Fethiye.

The tickets are 20TL and from this 2TL will be contributed to the society.

For anyone wanting to make a contribution: Halk Bank, Fethiye Şubesi/Branch, hesap no/account no.16000058.