7 December 2007
South Africa has launched a Braille version of the Department of Home Affairs’ “Know your Home Affairs Services” brochure, to better cater for blind people and ensure that they do not have to rely on others to access government services.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba presented the Braille version of the brochure to the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) in Garankuwa to the northwest of Pretoria on Wednesday.
Speaking to BuaNews at the handing over ceremony, Gigaba said the move was part of the department’s efforts to reach out to society, especially the disabled. He added that as part of their strategy, the department was also working towards ensuring that all its offices are accessible for the disabled people.
“Our approach is to ensure that all receive government services in a manner convenient to them,” he said. “We want to ensure that all people get services with ease and know where to get services.”
Home Affairs said in a statement that it was a milestone for the department to produce Braille for the first time to cater for the blind on all its nine civic services and products that range from birth registration, marriages, including civil union, and passport applications.
SANCB community development coordinator Chris Bhudeli said he was pleased with the Braille version, as it would make life a lot easier for blind people.
“We will no longer have to rely on other people to read for us information about Home Affairs,” he said, adding that he wished all government departments could do the same.
Bhudeli said the government information should be made available in audio to cater for those who cannot read Braille.
“Not all of us can read Braille; audio will cater for such people,” he said.
The department has been undergoing several changes since being taken over by director-general Mavuso Msimang in September. Stating that Home Affairs had the reputation of “being one of South Africa’s most dysfunctional departments,” Msimang has set his eye on transforming the organisation within 12 months.
These include checking up on the progress of an ID or passport application through SMS, and the introduction of the new Coat of Arms on the country’s passports.
“We are duty bound as a government of the masses to ensure that we do all that is in our power to curb the marginalisation of vulnerable sectors of the society,” Gigaba said. “We hope that this gesture will go a long way in demonstrating our commitment to facilitate universal access of information to diverse community across the country.”
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews