Visually impaired students deprived of joy of reading

Kathmandu, December 2

Just like any other normal child, a visually impaired child should also have access to read what he/she likes. But many of the visually impaired children have not been able to fulfil their wish to read books of their choice due to lack of such reading materials at schools.

Shristi Subedi, a visually impaired girl studying in Grade VIII, loves to read stories and poems. But unfortunately, she couldn’t read because her school does not have story and novel books in braille. “There are no reference materials for us in braille in our school library,” said Subedi. Other friends of mine go to library and bring books they like to read but I never get such chance to select books and read at home for pleasure. I have no other option than reading textbooks, she bemoaned.

Like Subedi, Sarita Adhikari too loves to read literary texts but due to lack of such reading materials, she has nothing to read at home after doing her homework. “Listening stories narrated by my friends hurts me as this reminds me of what I lack and my desire to read grows stronger but all that ends in disappointment,” she added.

As per the census 2011, there are 95,600 visually impaired people. Of them 18.5 per cent are the children up to 14 years. Of the total visually impaired children, 1, 350 go to school for formal education.

“Since we lack many teaching materials designed in braille, we face problems teaching such children about shapes and other creative skills” said Ramesh Subedi, visually impaired teacher at Laboratory School, Kirtipur. Not only reference materials but children do not even have course books.

“Considering the number of visually impaired children, more than 700 reference books are required only for students studying in Grade IX and X,” said Nar Bahadur Limbu, president of Nepal Blind Association, adding, “It is very necessary to provide reference books to those children, but the government only provides course books. We have been requesting the government to provide other reading materials in braille as well.”

“We have been providing text books to visually impaired children on time as per the demand. But till now we haven’t distributed literary books to such children,” said Ganesh Paudel, deputy director at Department of Education. “Different NGO and INGOs are providing reference books and other literary texts as there are very few publishers in Nepal who publish such reading materials.”