Viet Nam News Agency, Vietnam.
Monday, April 03, 2006.
HA NOI - The recently introduced multimedia digital talking book (DTB), produced by the Viet Nam Blind Association in co-operation with the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY), will help to increase literacy among visually challenged people in the country, said Nguyen Xuan Huong from the association at the start of a three-day course on DTB in the capital last week.
The digital book provides both pictures and sounds and produces Braille texts for the visually impaired and others with disabilities that limit their comprehension of printed text.
The course, attended by 11 members of the association, the Centre for Rehabilitation for the Blind, and the blind associations of Thua Thien-Hue, Hai Duong and Ha Noi, was conducted by lecturers and trainers from DAISY, who introduced various features of the DTB.
According to Huong, there are about 600,000 blind people nationwide, including students and officials, with 50,000 having association membership. Nearly 50 per cent of the visually impaired people in Viet Nam are illiterate, with only 800 students studying in schools and another 180 in universities all over the country.
Access to information, particularly print material, is a basic human need, and people with disabilities (PWDs) have equal rights as the rest of the citizens in receiving information, Huong said, pointing to the digital book as a way of bridging the information gap.
"The digital book produced by DAISY will facilitate literacy among the blind in the country. However, it is still new and many do not have the required computer skills," he said.
Computers are also expensive and a majority of the visually challenged people are poor and cannot afford them, Huong said.
The digital book also needs to be popularised as the concept was still new in the country. "Though we invited the national library to our workshop, we are yet to receive any response from them," he said, underlining the need for increasing awareness, especially that of relevant authorities, about the benefits of the book.
As advised by DAISY, the association, according to Huong, was also looking for support from non-governmental organisations, both in the country and abroad, to popularise the digital book.
The association now plans to work with the Ministry of Culture and Information, the national library and send a proposal to the Japanese Agency for International Co-operation for support.
"We have 42 associations all over the country. However, we will start implementing the project initially in Ha Noi, Hai Duong and Thua Thien-Hue," he said. - VNS
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