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Braille access for disabled in ‘short supply’ at universities

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Blind New Generation head Vin Vichet said while grade 1-12 students sufficient supplies, there are not enough for university students. Photo supplied

Braille access for disabled in ‘short supply’ at universities

A shortage of braille is making it difficult for visually disabled people to search for knowledge, Blind New Generation head Vin Vichet said on Tuesday.

He said this applies not only to visually disabled people studying at universities but also others who need to be able to read.

Vichet said a lack of braille is particularly difficult on disabled students because they cannot research documents or access libraries or other places that enable visually disabled people to read books. All they can do is have others read to them.

He said the simple truth is that visually disabled people need to be able to read and that has long been an unspoken problem in the country.

“Currently, there are braille publishing houses but after 2011 they were incorporated into the State. So, until now, it has become the National Institute for Special Education under the State’s management. The organisation publishes braille for students in grades 1-12,” he said.

He said while grade 1-12 students sufficient supplies, there are not enough for university students.

He also called the process of transcribing books into braille slow, often taking months.

Vichet has spent months seeking financial aid on social media to raise the funds to buy a printing machine to print braille for visually disabled students who are pursuing studies at universities.

Chhaom Makara, a student of social work at a university in Phnom Penh, told The Post on Tuesday a lack of braille had affected his research studies and lessons.

Makara said a lack of access to braille creates a gap at universities.

“It is different from normal high schools. Hence, during study hours, blind students can only listen partially. They can also forget some points when the study hour is over.

“If there is braille, we can review lessons and we can remember. But if we don’t have braille, it is very difficult. We are different from normal students. They saw [letters] in school. They can even see outside. When they forget, they can open books,” he said.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post on Tuesday that the ministry has always focused its attention to education at all levels without discrimination, especially for visually disabled persons.

He said the ministry set up the National Institute for Special Education, which also publishes braille so visually disabled students have documents to study.

“The ministry has a series of plans to facilitate educational documents for visually disabled persons who use braille to read and research. We hope that by 2030 the problems visually disabled people face can be solved,” he said.

Soveacha said there will be an open discussion with Blind New Generation to find a solution to current challenges.


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