March 1, 2021

MUB celebrates World Braille Day January, 4

The Malawi Union of the Blind [MUB], a national registered advocate organization for the rights and needs of the blind and partially sighted people, is joining the rest of the world to raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for persons who are blind or partially sighted.

MUB is requesting the Government of Malawi to make sure that equipment for the Blind which are not locally manufactured should be given duty –exemption when imported such as Perkins Braille machine, Embossing machine, Braille papers, Braille wrist watches, Orbit Reader 20, Styluses and white canes.

The organization is calling on government, policy makers and all other stakeholders to ensure that reading materials are available in accessible formats including braille, jaws [Speech software], and a large print, just to mention a few so that no one is left behind.

In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Ezekiel Kumwenda, the Malawi Union of the Blind [MUB] says Braille as essential tool for literacy and lifelong learning of the blind, their freedom of expression, opinion and social inclusion are enshrined in Article 21 and 24 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

MUB says in celebrating the World Braille Day, it is congratulating the Government of Malawi for signing and ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty which enables distribution of braille, and other accessible reading materials without the threat of Copyright infringement, saying this is a great way of ensuring that braille remains relevant alongside new technology.

However, the organization says this gesture is in vain if the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs continues to sit on an amendment bill for the Malawi Copyright Law [2016] to incorporate the provisions of the Marrakesh treaty.

MUB claims that it submitted the bill to the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare on 19th December, 2019 and got a confirmation note that bill had been submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 31st January, 2020
……’’Government should bring the bill for the amendment of the Copyright law before Parliament for Malawians with visual impairement to start bringing the fruits of the Marrakesh Treaty,’’….. reads the statement in part.

MUB says as Malawi strives to cope with COVID -19 pandemic, access to information and reading material in accessible format, is essential for persons who are blind or partially sighted.

A deaf lady with a Braille and Sign Language interpreter, Bettie Wisiki Kalitera, following the proceedings of the Covid-19 meeting in the area of Senior Chief Msakambewa in Dowa district

World braille day commemorates the birthday of Louis Braille, born in France in 1809, who has been credited for inventing braille, a widely used touch system of reading and writing for persons who are blind and the World Braille day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] in 2018.

By; Vincent Gunde

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