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About BCVI

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Serving the people of Belize for over 30 years.

pic3The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) is a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with visual impairments and reduce the prevalence of blindness through appropriate eye care. BCVI was established in 1981 and in its over 20 years of existence has developed a truly comprehensive eye service. It has successfully developed a range of services that support the needs of blind and visually impaired people whilst also actively working to prevent eye problems that can lead to blindness.

1981 to 1987

Founded as a committee of the Belize Red Cross

  • Formed as an independent organisation.
  • Registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee.
  • BCVI fully supported by the Belize Red Cross during this period.
  • Caribbean Council for the Blind provides support & staff training.
  • 1984 – First full-time Coordinator on staff.
  • 1986 – First Regional Field Officer (RFO) on staff, in Belize City, Belize District.
  • HelpAge support for services for the Elderly.

1988 to 1990

New funding partners: Co-operation for Development, CBM and Canadian Grant

  • Integrated Education for children introduced.
  • Visually Impaired Club for older persons formed in Belize City.
  • Database of Belizeans who are “legally blind” started.
  • Two additional RFOs added: Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District & Belmopan, Cayo District.
  • Primary care activities throughout the country, including training for nurses.
  • Book Production Unit created; Braille & large-print texts now published.
  • Private sector employment of first Visually Impaired (VI) persons.

1991 to 1995

Sightsavers International gives direct support

  • Eye-care training of Community Health Workers country-wide.
  • Early Stimulation programme introduced in cooperation with Hilton Perkins.
  • Second RFO added in Belize District.
  • Prevention of Blindness Committee organised first national seminar.
  • Low-cost production of eye-glasses started with Help the World See support.

1996 to 2000

Development of a Comprehensive Eye Care Service

  • 1997 – First annual Summer Camp for VI children.
  • Development of 3-year planning cycle.
  • Agreement with Government of Belize and Lions Clubs Belize signed.
  • Introduction of ophthalmic services.
  • Advocacy group of young, blind adults formed.
  • Computer technology & closed-captioned televisions introduced to assist VI students.

2001 to 2004

Expansion and consolidation of BCVIs Programmes

  • In partnership with the International Centre for Eye Health & the Pan American Health Organization, BCVI & Sightsavers start the Glaucoma Project.
  • BCVIs National Ophthalmic Unit renamed the National Eye Clinic, and a full-time ophthalmologist is employed to provide eye examinations, treatment & perform surgeries.
  • Increased efficiency by moving the Eye Glass Lab to a recently donated building.
  • Computer technology for students who are visually impaired expanded with the use of “JAWS” software & personal training.
  • New funding options explored to ensure sustainability through the next planning period.

2005-2009

Increasing Sustainability

  • BCVI celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a special photographic exhibition and a commemorative book sponsored in part by PAHO.
  • We welcome Academy Award Winning Actress, Debra Winger, who visits BCVI through Sightsavers and is a guest at a fundraising dinner.
  • The building known as our National Eye Clinic is expanded to now include the Primary Eye Care Clinic. This move has proven efficient and cost effective.
  • Sightsavers decision to gradually withdraw support to the Caribbean ensures we work closer together on activities to increase organisational effectiveness and diversify BCVIs funding base.
  • BCVI reviews policies and strategies to increase its sustainability.