Blind SA endorses the statement by the World Blind Union on the occasion of the World Braille Day, declared by the United Nations in 2018 as being the 4th of January annually.
During this COVID-19 Pandemic and especially during this second wave of the pandemic, over 750000 blind and partially sighted people do not have access to information about the Coronavirus, the current status or health and other protocols, regulations and directions in braille.
Blind SA calls upon the Department of Basic Education and Provincial Departments of Education to comply with the Gauteng North High Court Settlement of April 2019 to provide CAPS text books, readers, prescribed books and library books to blind and partially sighted learners in South Africa with these learning and reading textbooks in braille. In addition, Blind SA urges the Departments to also provide these learners with braille writing machines. Currently learners are sharing the limited braille books and braille writing machines which are at the Special Schools for the Blind. Majority of learners do not have these basic tools at the schools.
Blind SA also calls on Parliament to enact the Copyright Amendment Bill or a special legislation which will provide exceptions and limitations for publishers to provide textbooks and reading materials in an accessible format such as braille, daisy, audio and large print. Section 19 D in the Copyright Amendment Bill which was approved by both Houses of Parliament in March 2019 was sent back to the National Assembly by President Ramaphosa citing constitutional concerns. Section 19 D which contains the exceptions and limitations based on the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disable persons is not in dispute and is widely supported by publishers, actors, performers, musicians, authors, educationalists, access to knowledge and information activists and the disability sector.
Blind SA handed over a Memorandum and a batch of letters written by blind and partially sighted people to the Office of the President on International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2020 for the attention of the Speaker of Parliament, Chairperson of the DTIC Portfolio Committee and to President Ramaphosa. We were promised a response within seven days and Blind SA is still waiting for a response from these authorities.
Blind SA is a National Disable People’s Organisation established 74 years ago to empower blind and partially sighted people and to advocate for their basic human rights.
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