18 August 2004
The University of South Africa has launched a Braille HIV/Aids directory to help visually impaired and blind students to access knowledge about the disease.
The directory provides information on support and care services available for infected people, where these services can be accessed, and who to contact about the disease and other related issues.
Speaking at the launch in Pretoria on Wednesday, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang her department was not able to communicate adequately with people with disabilities, but was working on it.
The Health Department collaborated with Unisa on the Braille directory, and has also developed audio cassettes for the blind with key messages on the pandemic.
An international adviser to Perkins School for the Blind, Aubrey Webson, said disabled people – especially those who were poor or who lived in remote areas – were vulnerable to HIV/Aids.
He called on tertiary institutions to commission research on the disabled in order to understand their plight.
“Although strides are being made to improve the lives of the disabled, especially the blind, scientific data is still limited, and blind people do not have access to research material at universities”, Webson said.
Education Minister Naledi Pandor, who also attended the launch, said her department was involved in distributing Braille equipment to 30 special schools throughout the country through the Telkom Foundation.