By Nkhensani Hlungwani
Blind SA has called on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) together with the provincial departments of education to provide blind and partially sighted pupils and teachers with information in braille format.
In a media release posted on its website as part of celebrating Braille Awareness Day on January 4, the organisation has urged all departments of education to comply with the Gauteng North High Court Settlement of April 2019, to provide curriculum assessment policy statement (which stipulates policy on curriculum and assessment for grades R to 12) textbooks, readers, prescribed books and library books to blind and partially sighted learners in braille format.
It also urged Parliament to implement the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty which facilitates access to published works for persons who are blind or visually impaired through exceptions to traditional copyright law.
Blind SA president Ntshavheni Netshutuni (46) told ThisAbilty that “Unfortunately, we don’t have a meaningful response from any of the affected departments. The settlement was discussed by the learning and teaching support material advisory task team and promises were made by the department (chair of the task team), but nothing has come forth to date.”
Many blind and partially sighted people do not even have access to COVID-19 information, according to Blind SA. “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,” reads the organisation’s statement.