Call to localise laws for visually-impaired
THE Lesotho National League of the Visually Impaired Persons (LNLVIP) has called on government to domesticate international treaties aimed at protecting visually-impaired persons from discrimination and inequality.
The league said this during their recent belated commemorations of International Braille Day which is celebrated annually on 4 January to honour the birthday of Louis Braille who invented the Braille system to enable visually impaired people to read and write.
All languages and subjects like mathematics, music and computer programming can be read and written in braille system.
However, in Lesotho, thousands of visually impaired persons remain illiterate into adulthood because of lack of policies to ensure that braille is compulsory in all schools.
There are approximately 7000 known visually impaired persons in Lesotho while many more cases are undocumented due to various factors ranging from denial and lack of knowledge.
LNLVIP president, ‘Mabataung Khetsi told the Sunday Express that there was an urgent need to mainstream issues concerning the rights of blind persons and this could be best achieved through the domestication of relevant international treaties.
Ms Khetsi said Lesotho was signatory to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UN SRPD) and Marrakech Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled (MVT 2013).
“Although Lesotho is signatory to these international treaties, we seem to be moving very slowly when it comes to domesticating such treaties to ensure that the rights of the people who are blind are protected,” Ms Khetsi said.
She said domesticating these treaties would result in the corresponding repeal of legislation that perpetuated the discrimination of people with any form of disabilities.
She said this would further help the country achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 which seeks to reduce inequalities within and among countries.
Ms Khetsi said Lesotho was among the countries whose education was not as free as people were made to believe because the rights of blind people to literacy were not respected and protected.
“We are also working hard to ensure that the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) and National University of Lesotho (NUL) legislate the inclusion of braille subject in their teacher training syllabus,” she said, adding “both have committed to moving towards including braille as one of the subjects in their syllabus”.
Ms Khetsi said there was need for government to come up with affirmative employment policies to empower visually impaired persons.
“While we appreciate the fact that there is high unemployment rate in Lesotho, we strongly believe that there is a need for people who are blind or visually impaired to get employment preference as a form of motivation and appreciation of their educational achievements,” she said.
Ms Khetsi said only five schools in the country catered for the visually impaired, adding this was grossly inadequate and the LNLVIP was doing all it could to ensure that blind people get the opportunity to learn reading and writing skills.
She encouraged visually impaired people to acknowledge and accept their condition as this made it easier for the entire nation to accept them.
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