The Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) — an organization which advocate for the rights and needs of the blind and partially sighted people — on Monday, January 3 led Malawians in joining the rest of the global village in commemorating this year’s World Braille Day.
The commemoration, which was declared by the United Nation General Assembly in 2018, is under theme ‘Importance of Braille to the Blind and visually impaired.’
The World Braille is a special day on which the world commemorates the birthday of late Louis Braille of France, who invented the braille — the widely used touch system of reading and writing for persons who are blind.
In its statement, MUB Executive Director Ezekiel Kumwenda said braille is regarded as a essential tool for literacy and lifelong learning of the blind, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion.
These are enshrined in Article 21 and 24 of the UN Conversation on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) and sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 which focuses on inclusive and equitable quality of education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Kumwenda added that this is a day which is aimed at raising awareness of Braille, that just like education, it should be a legal right.
“Awareness of Braille’s importance cannot be overemphasized,” Kumwenda said. “We recognize the blind and visually impaired but it is very unfortunate that some often take our sight for granted and don’t understand the unique challenges that those with little or no sight face daily.
“Those with visual impairments deserve not only our recognition but also respect.”
Kumwenda further congratulated the National Planning Commission for providing the MW2063 vision document in accessible format for blind and visually impaired people and the Reserve Bank of Malawi for the awareness of campaign conducted in December 2021 regarding the new currencies that it has issued and the K5,000 bank note to be issued in February this year.
But Kumwenda also pleaded with Malawi government to make sure that equipment for the blind which are not locally manufactured should be given duty exemption.
“Equipment like Perkins braille machine, money readers, embossing machine, refreshable braille machines such as Orbit and Braille note-taker Slates and styluses Braille papers, just to mention a few, are not locally manufactured.
“For these to come in Malawi, we always pay a lot money, this is why we have been asking government to consider duty exemption because as it is now we face a lot of challenges with the duty,” he said.
National Planning Commission decided to include the Malawi 2063 vision document in braille version, both in Chichewa and English in line with its motto of ‘leaving no one behind’.
NPC partnered with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malawi in the production, printing and distribution of the braille version for the MUB to read, meditate on and be fully embraced by all the vision impaired citizenry in order to positively contribute to its implementation.
At the handover of the braille version, Kumwenda had said there are over 700,000 vision impaired citizenry, making it the largest group of physically challenged people in the country.
He also applauded NPC for including MUB in the formulisation process of the MW2063, which was officially launched President Lazarus Chakwera on January 19, 2021.
He had said: “What NPC and the UNDP Malawi have done is to emphasize that vision impairment should not be a barrier in order to contribute towards the development of this country.
“We seem not to offer much in most development programmes simply because our biggest challenge is lack of information like what we have been given by NPC and the UNDP.
“Now we don’t have an excuse and we are going to study this document in order to positively contribute towards its implementation,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :