News Story

Latter-day Saint Charities Provide Computers for Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals in French Polynesia  

Text-to-Speech software will allow hearing instead of reading

The Association of Blind and Visually Impaired People of French Polynesia, Mata Hotu no Porinetia, moved into its new headquarters on World Sight Day, 9 October.

As part of the inauguration of their new facility and this global celebration, the association is expanding the number of educational offerings, by adding information technology (IT), thanks to the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 


The Church, through Latter-day Saint Charities, is promoting self-reliance for the blind and visually impaired by providing two computers equipped with built-in software for the blind, including text-to-speech software, a technique that creates artificial speech from any text. 

Association president, Diego Tetihia, said, “I am grateful for the computers offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thanks to its support, the association will now be able to teach the blind and visually impaired members how to use computers and software to increase their skill level and improve their employability.” 

The association has about 50 people and is a nonprofit NGO that supports the daily needs, provides education and job placement, and seeks to raise public awareness of the needs of blind or visually impaired individuals.  

World Sight Day is an opportunity for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to remind us that two billion people in the world are visually impaired, including close to 600 in French Polynesia.  

As part of the inauguration, a full-day educational open house was organised to show resources that exist for the visually impaired. Members of the Church in the Punaauia Stake (group of congregations) gave their time in decorating the facility in preparation for the open house, and ran special workshops in gardening, genealogy, and sewing classes. 

“In our former headquarters located in an apartment in the center of town,” Diego Tetihia said, “we could only provide braille training. Now in this new home, on top of gardening and cooking, our training will include genealogy and computing.” 

Welfare and Self-Reliance manager for the Church, Manea Tuahu, said that Latter-day Saints “believe that by serving others, we are putting our faith in Jesus Christ into action. The welfare department takes action by partnering with other organisations to help people help themselves.”  

He continued: “A team of local senior volunteers takes care of finding the needs. After they report to the department, we prioritize, set up a partnership project, provide the funding, and implement. 

“For this project, right from our first meeting with President Diego Tetihia, we wanted to contribute to the social and professional integration of the visually impaired. The computers should allow members to train in preparing resumes, with the goal of finding meaningful employment.” 

Senior Church leader, Elder M. Russell Ballard, said, “We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens. As the Epistle of James notes, service is the very definition of pure religion (see James 1:27).”  For full address, read, “Be Anxiously Engaged,” October 2012)

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