mobile IT

Khulisani mobile IT Centre

In 2012 Khulisani launched an innovative mobile IT project in partnership with an international communications company, to assist with computer instruction/training for people with disabilities living near the Vereeniging area in Gauteng. The focus – as always – was on the upliftment of individuals with disabilities. The project has run for its projected 3 years, and we are now looking for a new corporate sponsorship to help continue with this successful initiative.

We had identified Vereeniging as a suitable project-site after conducting research into the needs of the disabled community there. We advertised and engaged an IT trainer (who happened to also have a disability) and driver, and customised the training accordingly.

Khulisani purchased a Toyota Quantum van, took out the seats and created the space needed to install workstations for 6 laptops. In order to accommodate the different disabilities which each of the learners experience, we researched (and identified) different computer teaching methodologies, illustrative software (English and Afrikaans, poor to good literacy), wheelchair ramps, and suitable seating on board. The vehicle was branded according to the sponsoring clients’ specifications, creating an ideal marketing opportunity for them. Our endeavours ensured a positive outcome for all stake holders involved in the project.

By investing in this mobile IT Unit, we have been able to offer much needed computer skills and training to children and young adults living with disabilities in the Vereeniging area.

Our present objective is to continue offering this important service. To do so, we need to find a suitable sponsor who would benefit from participating in this wonderful opportunity. The sponsor would contribute with funding by using ED or SED spend. The potential sponsor could brand the vehicle according to their needs, and thereby create a unique marketing opportunity in the region of operation.

If you would like to learn more about this project, or think that it may be something which your company could support please call us: 031 5630507.

All other contact details available on our website:

Rachael Erskine
National Operations Manager – Khulisani

Focus on sight impairment

In light of this month’s newsletter- focus on sight impairment, Khulisani would like to feature one of our new workers: Bhekumusa Shezi.
Bhekumusa attended our Durban North Business Practice learnership between 2013 and 2014. Having had two years at university, he completed the course with flying colours and found it to be stimulating and gratifying.

Being considered legally blind (though he does have some sight) Bhekumusa has overcome his disability by ‘working hard, and being focused on completing well what he has been given to do’ – evidence of this is deciding to run, and then running, the NYC marathon!

Khulisani has recently been given the contract to employ 28 workers for BHP. On behalf of BHP, Khulisani places these workers in suitable host sites where they will develop skills, get work experience, and help institutions who are desperate for assistance, but have limited resources to pay employees. Host sites where we have placed workers include: LIV Village, Durban Children’s Home, and Domino’s Children Home, and Domino’s soup kitchen.

Bhekumusa has been employed by Khulisani at Domino’s growing tunnels, where our workers grow vegetables which in turn are used to make soup which feeds 1 500 local residents from the local (Phoenix) community each day.

Despite his disability, Bhekumusa immediately took on a supervisory role – seeing the bigger picture of what the work entailed, and how valuable the teams’ work is in the community. He catches a taxi each morning (members of his community know him, and know to tell him when his taxi is coming/ when he needs to get off) and ensures that the site-manager shows him (in detail) each morning where he needs to work, and what needs to be done.

Bhekumusa’s motivation is to work to help support his family, and says that he will do anything and overcome any obstacle in order to achieve this objective.
Thank you BHP for affording people with disabilities the opportunity of meaningful employment while helping others who are less fortunate.

Bhekumusa, with the rest of the Khulisani team working at Domino’s growing tunnels. Bhekumusa is last on the RHS.

Rachael Erskine
Operations Manager – Khulisani

Facilitating Visually Impaired learners

According to the 2011 study from Stats SA, the national disability prevalence rate is 7,5% in South Africa of which 11% of persons aged five years and older are visually impaired.

Visual impairment is a very serious condition and can affect blind and partially sighted learners adversely. Where necessary, with focused one-on-one education and improved support services, learners will mature to become independent self-sufficient adults who can contribute to the economy of our country.

We chatted to one of the Durban North Business Practice facilitators, Cleo Nzimande who facilitates physically disabled learners, amongst them visually impaired learners. We asked her about the challenges that she faces on a daily basis and how she has overcome them.

“Learners can’t see the white boards, they just see a bright white light. To assist the learner I ensure that I use dark colours so the writing is more visible and I position them right in front of the class. We also give the learners smaller hand held boards which I write the notes on so the learner has the information right in front of them” says Cleo. “Visually impaired learners also often struggle with terrible headaches because they are constantly straining their eyes and necks in order to try and see what is written on the boards”

To assist the learner Cleo interrupts the lessons with regular breaks. For example: for every hour of facilitation they get a 10 minute break.

At I Can! our Assessors also understand the learners’ needs and disabilities and they take these challenges into consideration when assessing work. In Cleo’s case, learners are videoed during activities and these videos are submitted as evidence of competency, (and the learners are not marked down if they are not looking at the camera!). We also print the learner guides on A3 paper in much bigger font to assist our visually impaired learners.

Blind and partially sighted learners have the right to various educational opportunities. Within these options, learners need to be provided with very specific skills and improved support services for which the necessary expertise is available or can readily be obtained here at I Can!

Visual Impairment and Blindness

The story by Sibongile Mazibuko: a learner with visual impairment

My story:

My name is Sibongile, a person living with visual impairment. I am a confident and loving person. I was born with visual impairment, the condition became worse as I grow. Currently I am studying towards the Business Practice Qualification at the BraamPark academy, in Braamfontein Johannesburg.

I have a severe visual impairment from childhood which caused me to use assistant devices to live a normal life. The use of the device helped me to function as normal and get involved in any activities that a non-disable person will do.

I had to learn and develop different skills such a mobility, which helps me with getting around places e.g. shopping centre, my house, the academy and learning the routes to and from different venues. The other skill that I had to learn is the use of money sticks, the devise helps me to differentiate kinds of moneys that is notes and coins. I have installed a “Jaws” software on my computer and my watch. The use of a walking sticks helps me to feel my way around. I believe I would have not have grown in confidence to achieve what I have accomplished; if it is was not of the support of family, trainer and community.

Although these devices are available, however they are not affordable and not easily accessible. My plea and wish to our government is to help to subsidize these devices so they could be easily accessible and affordable to all who might needs them. A person with visual impairment or blindness tends to depend on other senses: that is one’s hearing, smell and touch/feel sense. By developing these senses it helps one to move around know what is happening around, above and below them.


I have learned to depend a lot on my hearing sense, this helps me to learn things, and remember things. It is important for me to advocate for people with disability. The campaign is to empower people to look beyond the disability when working or communicating with persons with disabilities.

The objective of my story is to inspire people and to educate people on disability, in my case visual impairment or Blindness. I hope to bring light and awareness to the community, that a blind or visually impaired person can live a normal life if they are supported and are surrounded by people who care for them.


Sibongile Mazibuko

I Can! Learner (Braampark academy)



Blindness or visual impairment is defined as: inability to see or limitation of actions and function of the visual system or a decreased ability to see.

There are 4 levels of visual function:

  • Normal vision
  • Moderate visual impairment
  • Severe visual impairment and
  • Blindness

The leading cause of blindness include cataract, glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration. On the other hand blindness caused by infections is decreasing worldwide.

Facts and Statistics on Disabilities

People with disability constitute one of the most marginalized and socially excluded groups in the society. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that there are approximately 1 billion people with disability globally, 80% of whom live in the developing countries. Of which 15% are from the Southern Africa and women and girls make half the percentage. According to the Statistics South Africa Report 2011, 7.5 % of South African are persons with disability and visual impairment is still the most prevalent disability. Disability is more prevalent among females compared to males (8.3% and 6.5% respectively).

What you might need to know:

When working with a person with visual impairment it is highly recommended that you take note of the following:

Lighting in the training rooms or offices is very important, depending on the severity of the disability one might need more or less light.

Colour coding of doors, frames, steps helps in recognizing them easily, it might help to avoid clear, white and silver colours.

Depending on the severity of the disability, one might rely entirely on hearing, so it will be crucial that what is being said is correct.

The font used for training material or even on presentations should accommodate a person with visual impairment.

Pens or markers that are used should be visible and accommodate someone with disability.



Winnie Mokoti

Operations Manager – Braampark


Louis Braille (1809-1852)

Six dots. Six bumps. Six bumps in different patterns, like constellations, spreading out over the page. What are they?

Numbers, letters, words. Who made this code? None other than Louis Braille,a French 12-year-old, who was also blind. And his work changed the world of reading and writing, forever.

Louis was from a small town called Coupvray, near Paris — he was born on January 4 in 1809. Louis became blind by accident, when he was 3 years old. Deep in his Dad’s harness workshop, Louis tried to be like his Dad, but it went very wrong; he grabbed an awl, a sharp tool for making holes, and the tool slid and hurt his eye. The wound got infected, and the infection spread, and soon, Louis was blind in both eyes.

All of a sudden, Louis needed a new way to learn. He stayed at his old school for two more years, but he couldn’t learn everything just by listening. Things were looking up when Louis got a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth, in Paris, when he was 10. But even there, most of the teachers just talked at the students. The library had 14 huge books with raised letters that were very hard to read. Louis was impatient.

Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called “night writing,” a code of 12 raised dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis!

Louis trimmed Barbier’s 12 dots into 6, ironed out the system by the time he was 15, then published the first-ever braille book in 1829. But did he stop there? No way! In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. But since the public was skeptical, blind students had to study braille on their own. Even at the Royal Institution, where Louis taught after he graduated, braille wasn’t taught until after his death. Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, took up the cause.

Now practically every country in the world uses braille. Braille books have double-sided pages, which saves a lot of space. Braille signs help blind people get around in public spaces. And, most important, blind people can communicate independently, without needing print.

Louis proved that if you have the motivation, you can do incredible things.

05 December 2012

A Celebration of Women ™

Nystagmus – a Mom’s journey

My daughter Ruby is visually impaired.  She has a congenital eye disorder called Nystagmus which is characterised by uncontrollable eye movement and lack of visual acuity.  She is a feisty little girl who does not let her disability hamper her in any way! However, like all mothers I want what is best for her so I am on a mission to understand her world, as well as provide help where it can be.  In my research I have come across some findings that I think will be of use to ICAN! when dealing with your visually impaired learners.   You should also note that most people with Albinism also have Nystagmus.  To enhance their learning process I would suggest these very simple interventions:

  • Good lighting is very important. All visually impaired people need good lighting but they can also be light sensitive so it has to be done carefully.  Many visually impaired people bring lighting specialists into their home
  • A person with Nystagmus sees differently at different angles (and this differs from person to person); the facilitator would need to work closely and discreetly with the learner to find out from which place in the classroom they see best.  They will always need to sit in the front but it may work better for them, for example, to sit on the left side of the facilitator
  • A visually impaired learner may be able to see normal size font but looking at it for a long period of time will be tiring for them.   They should be given additional time when needed
  • If they are comfortable with the idea, large print is better than small font
  • There are different variations of Nystagmus.  Ruby is able to look at me straight in the eye but many people with Nystagmus are unable to look at someone in the eye because their eye movement is so rapid.  So, when it looks like they are not listening they actually are
  • A person with Nystagmus often has a head tilt or shake – this is normal and it is the brain telling the eyes what position they should be at to have maximum vision
  • Many Nystagmus sufferers are colour blind

I happened to be assessing work done by a learner at a time when we just had just found out about the extent of Ruby’s lack of visual acuity.  His Portfolio of Evidence had large font and I was interested to meet him.  It turned out that he has Nystagmus as well as a very noticeable head tilt.  As you can imagine the head tilt is uncomfortable and leads to headaches and back pains.  What he did not know is that for people who have Nystagmus and a head tilt there is a simple operation than can improve visual acuity by about 30%. When your vision is minimal this would be a huge improvement. The good news is that this procedure is offered in our state hospitals.

I am currently working with another mother of a child, to understand Nystagmus. We want to create a charity where we raise money for Nystagmus research but also create an awareness around the interventions that are currently available.  When we get to this stage I hope that we can share information with ICAN! learners.

Hope this helps!  It’s amazing how things work out – I never knew when I joined ICAN! that my daughter’s eyes were so compromised. Now our journey together will hopefully benefit others by knowledge gained and shared.


Louise Carlyle-Mitchell



Khanyisa School (which means light) was established in the 1980’s to cater for partially sighted and blind pupils. The school accommodates locals in the area that live in Transkei, Ciskei and as far as Mthatha. The Dormitories of the school cater for up to 60 pupils, who come from all parts of the Eastern Cape. Situated in Kwa-dwesi there is so much warmth when one enters the doors of this school.

The school has managed to play a pivotal role in the lives of their matriculants. One learner in particular is Pelisa Mkwambi, who has partial vision in her right eye. Regardless of her obstacles, she is the top matriculant for special schools in the Eastern Cape. Pelisa managed to achieve four distinctions. She received prizes which include a certificate, trophy, cellphone and a bursary to the value of R80 000. She will be studying towards a diploma in Business Studies at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Her sight disability has in no way prohibited her from achieving her goals.

One of her educators Mrs Kepe commented that Pelisa is a very dedicated pupil and she puts a lot of effort to her work. She always asked her educators a lot of questions!

The school encourages school pupils to also participate in extra mural activities, including judo, karate, athletics and goal ball for the blind. They also have cultural activities such as drama which the learners really enjoy. Mr Msutwana is a professional singer and he teaches music to the pupils and is a conductor of the choir.

The Principal is very proud of Pelisa and says it is all thanks to her great team of educators that held special classes for the matriculants. The HOD of Khanyisa also played a pivotal role by ensuring everything runs smoothly within the school. The staff are very supportive of the learners, which in turn results in producing top achieving individuals.


Lauren Butler

Operations Manager – E Cape

I Can! Durban North – Parents Day

On the 12th November 2014, the Durban North Academy held its very first Parent Day at the Academy. The parents were welcomed by all the staff including our MD Alison Smeeton. Parents were taken through a presentation and reminded that I Can!’s focus remains on the mainstream inclusion and integration of young adults with disabilities in society.

The facilitators face many challenges with the learners on a daily basis, including poor attendance due to limited transport money, arriving late to class or just being being inappropriately dressed. This forum gave us the opportunity to address these problems with the parents. We believe that it is essential to not only provide the learners with a qualification but also to give them the necessary life skills so that they may be employable once they leave our Academies.

We were then entertained by the learners from each of the classes: poems were read out, songs were sung and one of the classes put on a little play for the parents about a girl who had never excelled at school until she came to I Can! and was shown exactly what she was capable of!

After a light lunch (which was prepared by the learners), the parents were taken through to the classrooms, where they got to meet their child’s facilitator and were shown their work and what the learners do on a daily basis. The parents were very proud and blessed to see how their children have progressed.

The event was hugely successful and a wonderful opportunity to motivate the learners to reach even greater heights. With their parents and guardians as witnesses, we were all reminded to place ABILITY before DISABILITY in order to reach our maximum potential in life.

Academy Supervisor – Durban North
Claudia Leite

A Year in Review


When asked to take time to think about ending the year off there were so many things to write about with all the new and exciting things happing in I Can! Reflecting on the Month of November as Disability Month, we thought it appropriate to write about the core of our business, which is our learners of course.

What a beautiful way to start November with light showers in the Western Cape. As we slowly approach the festive season we take the time to reflect on the months gone by in 2014. Take a step back to when we started the year, some new learners, some not so new. These are our most prized assets and it is with this in mind that we hone in on the abilities that lie with them despite their disabilities.

Learners from all walks of life visit our academies to enquire about opportunities to gain some skill or knowledge. It is not only our mission to ensure we provide each possible candidate an opportunity to engage with us in order to either place them on a learnership or at an employer. It is our commitment to our learners that drives us to deliver. Our learners have the innate ability to be part of a bigger picture through consistency and perseverance to complete a learnership. Their abilities are infinite when they are given the right tools and the proper guidance.

We have engaged with many sites who have been willing to open their doors to allow our learners to engage and gain work place experience. These opportunities provide them with the courage to do things for themselves when they have always had someone tend to their every need because of their disability. No longer do our learners fear having to travel alone to the academy nor to their practical work site, because they have overcome the stigma that they need to be hand-held to achieve success on their own. We reflect on those who have never been able to master the art of being an individual, those who have always relied on their parents or guardians to make the decisions for them. We are proud to be part of the changes that our learners have gone through on their learning journey. Proud to have seen the growth and determination to achieve.

Let’s take the time to reflect on our own abilities, and celebrate along with our learners who have disabilities. November we dedicate our accomplishments and achievements to overcoming the inability to see past the individuals’ disability.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

Madre Human
General Manager: I Can!