x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Braille books for Arab community

Hundreds of books have been transcribed into braille by Dubai Culture.

DUBAI // Blind and visually impaired people now have a wider range of books available to read at public libraries after a series of Arabic language titles were transcribed into braille.

My Vision, written by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, is among the titles now available.

Braille uses raised dots in place of printed letters to allow blind people to "read" with their fingers.

The adaptations have been carried out by Dubai Culture - the emirate's authority for the arts and heritage - with 250 copies of 44 titles being converted.

The move has been welcomed by experts who now say other media should also be made easier for blind people to use.

"This is a great first step in helping people who are blind or have impaired vision," said Dr Lina Owies, who runs the Senses Care Home for Disabled Children in Dubai.

"It will mean blind people can read and be informed like able bodied people."

The books will be stocked in all eight public libraries in Dubai and include children's books such as Magic of Rain and The Bear and The Treasure.

"The introduction of Arabic books in braille will allow us to reach out to an entirely different section of our community, enabling them to acquire a wealth of education," said Abdulrahman Ibrahim, head of the Dubai Public Library Department, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

The transcriptions were carried out following a directive from Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dubai Public Library in collaboration with the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, which printed the titles and will see more books translated in future.

In time, books in other languages will also be transcribed into braille and audio books will be added to libraries to allow people with other disabilities access to literature.

The books will be available at Al Safa Public Library, Al Mankhool Public Library, Al Rashidiya Public Library, Al Twar Public Library, Umm Suqeium Electronic Library, Hor Al Anz Public Library, Al Ras Public Library, and Hatta Public Library.

"Dubai Public Library is also working with various academic and social institutions focused on children and adults with special needs to connect them directly with the services available in the libraries." said Mr Ibrahim

However, Dr Owies said more can be still be done to help blind and visually impaired people. "This needs to be part of a broader approach. It needs to be better advertised so that people can take advantage of it.

"If blind and visually impaired people know these books are available they will use them, but I think more books should be converted to braille so that people have a better choice.

"This kind of thing can help blind and visually impaired people play a more active part in society," she said.

The books can be borrowed by anyone who is a member of Dubai Public Library. This includes individuals, families, children as well as organisations.

To register to become a member or for more information visit www.dubaiculture.ae or in person at a public library.

nhanif@thenational.ae