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NGO advocates for braille in tertiary institutions

Limpho Sello

THE Lesotho National League for the Visually Impaired Persons (LNLVIP) has appealed to the government to include the study of braille especially in teacher training institutions to cater for visually impaired learners.

This was said at the belated commemoration of the annual World Braille Day at Mohloli oa Bophelo Training Centre (MBTC) which were held last week.

World Braille Day is celebrated on January 4 every year to commemorate the birthday of braille inventor, Louis Braille. His invention enabled the visually impaired to learn how to read and write.

Locally, LNLVIP and the Ministry of Social Development use the day to create awareness of the challenges faced by the visually impaired and encourage the creation of economic and social opportunities for people living with the condition.

St. Bernadette Primary School’s special teacher, Relebohile Matobo, said due to the lack of special schools and teachers, visually impaired learners were overcrowding in the few schools that had the facilities.

Mr Matobo emphasised the need for more teachers to learn braille and expressed gratitude to MBTC for the short courses in braille they offer to teachers.

LNLVIP secretary general, Mabataung Khetsi, called on the government to introduce compulsory braille courses in tertiary institutions and schools.

Ms Khetsi said while they waiting for that to happen, they had already started offering part time braille classes with two-fortnight-long classes in June and December.

“We are doing this to assist in the basic training of braille because one must have trained for two years on a full time basis to fully understand braille,” Ms Khetsi said.

Social Development minister Matebatso Doti said they were aware of the challenges that were faced by visually impaired persons in the country, adding they had made progress in ensuring that services are provided for the concerned group.

Ms Doti said her ministry was working with the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs in the domestication of the Marrakesh Treaty for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.

The Marrakesh VIP Treaty is a treaty on copyright adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 28 June 2013.

The treaty allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons.

Ms Doti said the domestication of the Marrakesh Treaty, “would enable the country to get to a point where we will have materials written in braille in our libraries, schools and everywhere”.

“Again, as the ministry we have started to make efforts to ensure that children with disabilities are admitted in local schools so that no child is left behind.

“We are still lagging behind in a number of developments but this year we have already bought laptops and installed the joss application for visually impaired students who are admitted at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).”

She further said they intended to lobby for the inclusion of braille at NUL and the Lesotho College of Education.


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