Independant On-line, Now the blind can read about Aids, 12 August 2004

Tsabeng Nthite

The visually impaired and the blind can now read about HIV/Aids and other health matters.

This follows the publication through Unisa of the new HIV/Aids braille dictionary which was unveiled this week by Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Minister of Health.

Being the first of its kind in the country, Unisa said it took pride in taking part in the venture of enabling the disabled to be part of the HIV/Aids learning mission initiated by the government.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the Department of Health collaborated with Unisa to develop the braille HIV and Aids directory to, among other things, provide information about the support and care services for blind people living with the virus. It also provides details about where the services can be accessed and who can be contacted to find our more about the pandemic.

"I hope this directory will allow the blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as organisations that provide support and care to access the services available relating to HIV and Aids."

"Government has always been passionate about the rights of people with disabilities and will continue to encourage society to uphold and respect these rights," said Tshabalala-Msimang.

Joining the Minister of Health at the launch was the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, and the vice-chancellor of Unisa, Professor Barney Pityana, who took pride in what the university has achieved over the past 10 years.

"The launch of this braille HIV/Aids dictionary is part of the university's celebrations in commemorating 10 years of democracy," Pityana said.

"It is important for us as a university to let people who are disabled and those who are affected and infected by the virus know that we share with them the horror and their struggles; hence the establishment of the dictionary."

Many disabled and partially blind students and staff members of the university were present at the launch and were excited at the new development the university has embarked upon in including them in the celebrations.

A partially blind student, Margaret Motsepe, took the honour of reading the first few lines in the dictionary.

Motsepe said the dictionary would bring about a revolution for the blind and visually impaired to learn about HIV/Aids for themselves.

Tshabalala-Msimang said South Africans had to speak out against the stigma, shame, denial and discrimination that had been associated with people with disabilities and those living with Aids.

This article was originally published on page 5 of Pretoria News on August 12, 2004




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