PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to set up its own Braille printing press that would benefit 3,600 students with disabilities studying in 44 special schools of the province.
According to sources, the government has recently approved a project Rs40.3 million for setting up a modern Braille printing press in Peshawar.
It will help to increase literacy ratio and also enable the visually impaired poets and writers to bring out their creative and research works.
Habib Khan Afridi, the director of social welfare department, told this scribe on Sunday that earlier Braille books used to be purchased from Punjab and Sindh.
Project to cost Rs40.3 million and benefit 3,600 students with vision disability
He added that it was a hectic job and at times would cause different problems for students with visual impairment.
He said that initially about 13 teachers would be trained to operate the Braille system including a customised software service.
He said that around 105,000 special persons were registered with his department.
Of them, 83,000 and 2,000 were physically and mentally challenged persons respectively while 20,000 were suffering from hearing and visual impairment.
Mr Afridi said that textbooks in Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and English would be designed so that visually impaired students in the province could also know about their history, art, culture and literature.
He said that work was underway to prepare comprehensive plan to provide the same facility to the physically challenged persons including visually impaired persons in the tribal districts.
He said that contents relating to local history, art, cultural and literary heroes were being accommodated in the relevant subjects and the customised software would bring out books on all the topics including general knowledge, Islamiat and literature.
“The number of special persons in the province is about 375,752 where the percentage of visual impairment is 7.2. The number of registered special persons in the tribal districts is 15,000 with 10 percent visual impairment but speedy work is underway to provide equal opportunities to the all special persons in the tribal districts,” said the director.
Pashto poet and Braille teacher Habib Nawaz Inqilab is presently teaching at a government school for blinds in Swat. He is also doing doctorate on the issues of special persons from Institute of Education and Research, University of Peshawar.
He said that setting up Braille printing press was their longstanding demand as it would not only fulfil basic needs of the visually impaired students but would also enable poets and writers to bring out their literary works.
“I appreciate the step of government. I offer my services to design Pashto special Braille characters and symbols, which will greatly help the visually impaired students. I also appeal to the government to fill up the vacant posts,” he said.
Braille system would be fully operational in June and campaign for enrolling special persons was part of the project.
Special persons in different categories were already enrolled in Peshawar and Mardan in first year for the first time.
Prof Abaseen Yousafzai said that he and his colleagues had already prepared Pashto curriculum from 1st grade to 12th grade students and same contents could be converted to Braille as it would enable visually impaired literati to compose their works.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2021