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A children’s charity has launched an urgent appeal to fund a visual aid for a blind girl from Southampton who risks falling behind at school because specialist equipment that helps her complete school work has to be left in the classroom.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children needs to raise £2,616 to provide nine-year-old Florence Heffer with the life-changing electronic braille tablet like the one she uses at school because she has to leave it there at the end of the day, meaning she is unable to complete homework or learn outside of school hours.

The equipment, a braille tablet that translates documents into braille, writes and edits, creates graphs and allows Florence to access the internet.

Florence’s eyes stopped developing during the early stages of pregnancy and she was born with abnormally small eyes (Microphthamlia), as well as Glaucoma affecting the optic nerve in both eyes and Nystagmus, which causes her eyes to make repetitive, uncontrolled movements. Dense cataracts were also surgically removed when she was three-months-old.

Mum, Pip Davies, said: “Although Florence can make out light, shade and shapes and wears very strong glasses to help her make the most of her limited vision, she needs to use braille – which without technology is an extremely slow and limited process.

“She absolutely makes the most of her limited vision and wants to have as normal a life as possible. She goes to a drama class and takes part in Goalball, a sport specifically for blind people, but her lack of vision impacts every part of her life – and not having this visual aid at home makes it hard to keep up with others her age.

“Florence follows a mainstream curriculum with braille on top, so she uses a visual aid at school which was funded by the Local Education Authority, but this means it has to stay on school premises. Having this technology available at home would give her the continuity to build on what she learns in school. It would help her education immensely and really boost her confidence too.

“Being able to use this at home now, means Florence would not only keep up, she could excel as a blind person in a technological sighted world. It would give her the most options for her future, which is all any parent wants for their child. It would be life changing.”

Newlife’s Senior Manager for Child & Family Team, Carrick Brown, said: “Every child has a right to learn, to develop skills, talents and abilities and a right to live the life they want – without disadvantage. For Florence this will allow her to do just that.

“Unfortunately specialist equipment comes with a specialist price tag and, as much as we want to help Florence and her family, we simply don’t have the funds to buy the equipment right now. We are urgently appealing to the local community for help to raise the money so Florence can have the visual aid she so clearly needs.”

Florence is just one of 51 children in the South East on our waiting list and in desperate need of specialist disability equipment costing a total of £33,873 so every penny we raise is so vital. Money raised above the amount needed for Florence’s visual aid will be used to help other disabled and terminally ill children in need.

Anyone able to help Florence should contact Newlife on 01543 431 444. Alternatively you can visit the website at  email, or text NEWLIFE FLORENCE to 70500 to give £10 to Florence’s appeal. Newlife will receive 100% of your donation. Texts cost £10 plus one message at your standard network rate. Always get the bill payer’s permission.

 4/9/2020: STOP PRESS: Thanks to a great community effort and lots of media support we have now raised enough money for the equipment. However, you can still donate to help other children on our waiting list If you are able to help please call 01543 431 444.