blind man graduates

Ornette Danse inspired an entire auditorium when he was called up to collect his diploma. The blind father of three received a loud and excited applause.


Ornette Danse, a 32-year-old father of three, is a blind man whose ambition and hard work made him the shining star at a recent CPUT graduation. The moment his name was called out the entire auditorium erupted into a loud and ongoing applause that radiated through him.

Ornette is the pride of his family by becoming the first family member to graduate from university. He has graduated with a diploma in public management. His accomplishment doesn’t end there, he is now gearing up to pursue a Bachelor of Technology degree.

When asked about his feelings over the accomplishment and what it felt like hearing the auditorium react so excitedly, he said,

“I am overwhelmed, happy, glad – I can’t properly describe this feeling,” 

“It was an overwhelming accomplishment. I felt like I made it.”

Ornette lost his eyesight at age 10 when he underwent surgery to repair a retinal detachment. The retinal detachment would have led to blindness eventually so surgery was the best option. The operation didn’s go well and Ornette woke up to a darkened world.

He knew his chances of employment had drastically decreased so during his matric year he dedicated his life to studies and job experience. He signed up for switchboard training and volunteered during the holidays at his local police station as a switchboard operator.

“I knew that being blind would make getting a job straight out of school basically impossible. I had limited options so to ensure I was employable, I wanted to make sure I had work experience,”

His experience launched him into a career as an operator at the 10111 call centre. He has spent the last decade of his life working to help people who call in on the emergency line. Ornette took it a step further and learned 6 of the official languages so he could better serve the people of South Africa.

Ornette has always had a keen interest in the public service and jumped at the opportunity to study it when he was awarded a bursary from the police. Over the course of his three-year diploma, Ornette achieved 10 distinctions.

The most challenging part of doing his studies as a blind man was not the workload but the commuting as some of his classes ended long after public transport was available. It was on these occasions that Ornette was most touched, his work colleagues and fellow students helped out with lifts.

Ornette insists that anyone with any disability should pursue their academic goals. He has some really sound advice.

“My advice to people with disabilities is to try and break the boundaries. Be open and explore. A closed book can’t be read. If you need help, ask and someone will assist,”

Ornette is truly an inspiration and we are so happy to share his story.

Sources: News24
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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