The blind lead the way

Visa Pillay and Jodie Kroone SUPPLIED

Visa Pillay and Jodie Kroone SUPPLIED

Published Nov 27, 2023

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Durban paraplegic Jodie Kroone will be taking on the challenge of driving in the KZN Blind and Deaf Society Blind Navigator Rally.

Kroone, 29, will be joined by her blind navigator, Visa Pillay, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to the event. We did a test run and it was a lot of fun. Communication is very important, you have to talk to each other and explain where you are and your surroundings.

“Together we’re going to break barriers and prove that determination knows no bounds,” said Kroone, who runs a marketing agency.

Paraplegic Jodie Kroone SUPPLIED

The Blind Navigator Rally has a sighted driver paired with a blind navigator. They are required to completely rely on each other to get around a designated course on public roads, racing against the clock.

The event is challenging but fun and a wonderful opportunity to learn about abilities and disabilities.

Kroone, from Hillcrest, became paralysed from the chest down after she broke her back in a motor vehicle accident in 2017. She drives an adapted vehicle modified to allow her to control the pedals with her hands.

“As a paraplegic, it’s opened my eyes to the world of disability. I’ve got involved in a lot of events around disabilities, including the KZN Blind and Deaf Society. I was also passionate about people with special needs, but after my accident, I started seeing it from a whole different perspective. I now see it as part of our world, normalising people with disability.”

Veetha Sewkuran, president of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society, said the event started in 2021 and aimed at creating an awareness around disabilities as well as raising funds.

“This year, 16 drivers will be navigating a 65km-route, starting from Suncoast Casino. What is unique this year is that it is taking place on International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Also there are two drivers who have physical disabilities and one driver who is hearing impaired.

“The instructions and directions are in braille so the blind navigator will have to read to the driver.”

Independent on Saturday

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