Making their own map books cost schools for blind and partially sighted learners a lot of money and time. They have to use special Braille paper, string and glue. In addition, such maps are usually quite small and the information very limited.
First for South Africa
To help these schools, the Department of Land Affairs introduced the first of its kind, a Braille atlas for blind learners this year. The atlases will open up a whole new world for partially sighted and blind people in South Africa.
"Producing this book is a first of its kind for South Africa. It shows Government's commitment to levelling the playing field between able and disabled persons," said Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Land Affairs.
The atlas is a valuable educational tool for blind people who can read Braille. This is in line with our country's Constitution, which states that people with disabilities have the right to access of information.
The books are part of the school syllabus. They will make life much easier for learners when doing homework and class assignments.
The atlases were distributed to schools for the blind and partially blind throughout the country. They are used mainly by Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners studying Travel and Tourism and also by Grade 8 and 9 learners doing Social Sciences.
"Learners are now having great fun learning about the different provinces and cities in South Africa," said Mokhine Boshielo, a History Teacher at the Filadelfia School for Visual and Hearing Impaired Learners.
She said they aim to get an atlas for every learner in the school, as it is difficult for learners to share the books and read the Braille together.
Major step forward
"This atlas is a major step forward in the classroom. Hopefully our learners can soon start learning about other countries and continents with international Braille maps," Boshielo said.
Currently, the maps are of South Africa's provinces and regions only.
- Samona Murugan