Wed | Oct 17, 2018

New climate change publication caters to the blind

Published:Friday | April 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

THE NATIONAL Library of Jamaica has received its first legal deposit of a Braille publication, thanks to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Panos Caribbean, which collaborated to deliver 'Climate Change, Gender and Persons with Disabilities in Small-island Developing States'.

The 44-page print publication - officially handed over to the library last week Monday - chronicles the vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities to natural disasters, while exploring how men and women are differentially impacted.

It provides, too, insight into existing legislative and policy frameworks that address issues of climate change, gender and persons with disabilities and shares lessons learnt from the recent Panos project titled 'Increasing the Disaster Response Mechanism for Persons with Disabilities in Portmore, St Catherine, Jamaica, via a Pilot Early-warning System'.

"As far as I know, it is the first Braille publication that I have got at the national library. But I know there is no fear of contradiction that since the Legal Deposit Act came into being in 2004, this is the first publication in Braille," Valerie Francis, acquisitions librarian at the library, told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

"We are particularly pleased and excited about this legal deposit of a publication; it is not just a publication to put in the library, but is contributing to another set of persons we can serve - persons with disabilities," she added.

The National Library has in recent times made efforts to address the needs of persons with disabilities, including the implementation of its Talking Book programme.

"And now, we have the Braille, which is an added resource to the blind," she noted.

Gloria Goffe, executive director of the Combined Disabilities Association, had high praises for the new publication, which is co-authored by Indi Mclymont Lafayette, regional coordinator at Panos; Judith Wedderburn, director at FES; and journalist Petre Williams-Raynor, also the senior programme officer with Panos.

"I understand that it is the first time that it has been done with the library, which makes it an historic occasion. It is also a demonstration that we are progressing. Most times, it might not be something that is considered major by persons generally, but for persons with disabilities, it is major, and especially for persons who are blind," she said.

"The fact that the library is excited about having it there means that it is not just tokenism ... . It means that people are buying into the fact that persons with disabilities have rights, including the right to information," Goffe added.

FES is a private, non-profit foundation named after the first democratically elected German president and which supports a range of training, educational and advocacy activities through programmes of international development cooperation, political education and research.

Panos Caribbean is a regional communication organisation that specialises in project management work across a range of programme areas, including climate justice, children, youth and violence, and media development.