Malawi’s visually-impaired get coronavirus information on braille

As the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing in Malawi, a local NGO in conjunction with the Malawi government has started distributing braille pamphlets among people with visual impairments.

One of the beneficiries read braille pamphlet the Covid-19 awareness messages -Photo by Steve Chirombo, Mana
Kaluwa speaking during the launch.-Photo by Steve Chirombo, Mana

It is the first time for Waters Malunga, Chairman for the Union for the Blind in the district to get such information on a braille format. All along he has been depending on Whatsapp voice notes and radio messages in getting such information.

“It has been a challenge for me to share COVID-19 messages to my fellows because I had no official book that would tell us more about the pandemic,” Malunga said.

The young man will now be able to study the braille pamphlet and share it among his friends in the district.

Unlike Malunga, a number of people with visual impairment in the district do not have access to phones and radio receivers. Many of them depend on Malunga and few others to read braille books and interpret the messages to them.

Proper measures are being taken to serve the visually-impaired people. According to MacDonald Kaluwa, Director of Campaign for Health, Education and Sanitation (CAHESH), the braille books include a list of measures which will help these people in getting official information about COVID-19 from the government.

Kaluwa believes that the widespread of fake news endangers how people perceive the COVID-19 messages, therefore people living with disabilities need to be assisted very carefully to limit their chances of getting such information.

The programme has started in Chikwawa district and it is expected to help almost one thousand people in the district.

“Our district has a large number of people with visual impairment, this initiative will help us to minimize the challenge which we were facing as an office,” said Seti Piriminta, District Health Officer.

“These materials are very important in sharing the message about COVID-19 to this special group unlike visual presentations,” said Piriminta.

People who understand braille language in the district have received a COVID-19 braille pamphlet and they have been advised to share the information in their communities whilst observing safety precautions.

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