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World Braille Day: Pandemic shows importance of information access for all |



Braille is a tactile language used by people who are blind and partially sighted. Combinations of raised dots represent individual letters and numbers, and even musical, mathematical, and scientific symbols so books and periodicals can be read by touch.

This system was invented by Frenchman Louis Braille almost 200 years ago.

In a Twitter post, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, praised Braille as a tool for freedom of expression, access to information and social inclusion.

“This has never been truer than in times of isolation by #COVID19,” he wrote.

Access for all

World Health Organization (WHO) it is estimated that at least one billion people globally have near- or far-sighted vision impairment that may have been prevented or unresolved.

According to the United Nations, life in captivity poses many challenges for the visually impaired, including in terms of independence and isolation.

COVID-19 also shows the importance of providing information in braille and audio formats, otherwise many people with disabilities may face a higher risk of contamination. The pandemic also underscores the need to increase digital accessibility for all.

Feedback for people with disabilities

During the pandemic, several UN agencies have been implementing good practices towards disability response and information dissemination in Braille.

For example, in Malawi, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has produced more than 4,000 Braille materials on COVID-19 awareness and prevention.

Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, disseminating audio information, as well as educational and communication materials, to media professionals, and developing braille versions of educational messages.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also created how-to notes in multiple languages ​​and accessible formats, including Braille and ‘easy to read’ versions.

Its notes on COVID-19: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities address issues including access to information; water, sanitation and hygiene; health care, education, child protection and mental health and psychosocial support.

Awareness of human rights

UN General Assembly establish World Braille Day 2019 aims to raise awareness about Braille’s role in the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the blind and partially sighted.

Braille is essential in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion, as outlined in article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.





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