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It’s World Braille Day

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Minister for Disability Issues
4 January 2018 MEDIA STATEMENT

It’s World Braille Day

Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni welcomes the United Nations’ first ever World Braille Day.

World Braille Day raises awareness of the importance of Braille to blind and partially sighted persons worldwide and its role in enhancing their independence.

“Braille is helping around 700 blind New Zealanders gain greater independence, participation and citizenship through access to written information, learning resources in schools and tertiary facilities;” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Association of Blind Citizens’ Martine Abel-Wilkinson agrees and acknowledges how Braille helped her reach her goals.

“I’ve learnt to read and write Braille since the age of 5. Braille was always my touch-stone to literacy and is one of the main reasons for my academic success, in terms of excelling in my chosen fields of tertiary education and employment. World Braille Day to me is a virtual monument and celebration opportunity,” Martine Abel-Wilkinson said.

Carmel Sepuloni says the Government is committed to improving accessibility and the lives of disabled New Zealanders.

“In early December the Government signed off on a major accessibility work programme, which will explore how we can achieve full accessibility for disabled people and all New Zealanders.

“In 2018, 36 public sector Chief Executives signed up to the Accessibility Charter which commits agencies to improving the accessibility of public information and services for disabled people.

“We are also making progress towards signing the United Nation’s Marrakesh Treaty, which will amend the Copyright Act by making it easier for information in accessible formats such as Braille and Large Print to be shared,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Notes for Editors:

1. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Blind Union's Resolution affirming World Braille Day on 6 November 2018. The purpose of the World Braille Day, celebrated on Louis Braille’s birthday every January 4, is to raise awareness of the importance of Braille for converting the written word to tactile form for the benefit of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide. For more information www.un.org/press/en/2018/gashc4250.doc.htm

2. World Braille Day is celebrated on the birthday of Louis Braille. His reading and writing system was developed in the early 1800s and continues to play a significant role in enhancing the independence of people who are blind or have low-vision.

3. For more information about Martine Abel-Williamson visit https://abcnz.org.nz/about-blind-citizens-nz/personal-profiles-of-board-members/

4. Estimates are that there are at least 700 Braille users in New Zealand.

5. Children who are blind and visually impaired learn Braille through the services and schooling provided by the Blind and Low Vision Network New Zealand (BLENNZ). From its campus in Auckland, BLENNZ provides specialist teaching for blind and low vision students across New Zealand. For more informationwww.blennz.school.nz/school-centres-and-services/homai-our-auckland-campus/

6. BANZAT has accredited two organisations as Braille producers in New Zealand, namely, the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ) and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (the Blind Foundation). BANZAT recognises that the production of Braille is a core service of both organisations, who together produce more than 90% of New Zealand’s Braille. For more information www.banzat.org.nz/accredited-producers

7. For more information on the Marrakesh Treaty www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/business/intellectual-property/copyright/the-marrakesh-treaty/


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