Visually Impaired Persons Demand for Brailled COVID-19 Messages

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BY Male Fred
The visually Impaired people have demanded that they should be included in the ongoing COVID -19 vaccination drive by putting messages in braille and big fonts for persons with low vision.

Binasali Kyebagadha an ICT lecturer from the faculty of special needs and rehabilitation at Kyambogo University said that it’s hard for blind people to get information about COVID-19 since most of the messages being disseminated in the mainstream and social media platforms don’t show the inclusiveness of the visually impaired persons.

Kyebagadha explained that apart from people with total visual impairments, persons who have low vision cannot also read some of the messages that are put out on posters and billboards because they are written in small fonts and they can’t get information that can influence them to get vaccinated.

In his own initiative, Kyebagadha has tried to convert the COVID-19 messages that were published by the ministry of health into braille where a visually impaired person can read by touching and easily grasp the information being communicated about the pandemic.

Brailling Covid19 messages, Kyebagadha said has helped his students to make informed decisions when going for the COVID-19 vaccination or what to do once they get infected with the virus.

“Here at Kyambogo University at least students had an opportunity to get that information in braille what about a child who is deep in the village in any part of Uganda? The COVID-19 messages should be put in braille for the visually impaired persons to access information” Kyebagadha said.

Gabriel Esegu, a visually impaired student doing a bachelor of guidance and counseling at Kyambogo University, said that he was reluctant to go for vaccination until he got information in braille which was the initiative of the university.

Esegu said that the information he read in braille helped him to get the correct information about the vaccines. This enabled him to get rid of the myths about being vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There is some information which has pictures like during the lockdown the ministry of health was illustrating how to wear a mask on television but in could not understand but if such illustrations are brailed the visually impaired persons could get the information easily” Esegu stated.

Emmanuel Ayinebyona the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health said that the ministry has got experts for special needs to cater to such cases. He also said that the visually impaired at the moment can rely on the audio messages broadcasted on radios as the ministry works on a plan to put some of the documents in braille.

The 2021 study by the Ophthalmology Society of Uganda (OSU) showed more than 400,000 people in Uganda have visual impairment because of treatable and preventable conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma (caused by high pressure), and diabetic retinopathy.