‘Braille Box’ volunteers convert college textbooks into Braille

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Saudi Gazette report

AL-AHSA — Braille Box is a volunteer initiative to translate college textbooks into Braille to help visually impaired students continue their education, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

Founder of the initiative Kowthar Al-Hamdi said she started the initiative a year ago and recruited 200 volunteers from all areas of the Kingdom.

“Myself being a blind person, I know the obstacles that blind people face in our society. They could be among the smartest and most motivated of students but they struggle in finding education materials that suit their needs. I am a student at King Faisal University Education College. I study sociology and hope to one day be an entrepreneur and also a published author,” said Al-Hamdi.

She said the university had been incredibly helpful and supportive of her.

“For a blind student to print out certain college material in Braille would probably cost around SR300 whereas it costs a regular student only a small fraction of it. I broached the idea of my initiative to my blind colleagues and they loved it. We started as a small team and grew to 200 volunteers,” said Al-Hamdi.

She said there was a special device called Braille Sense that reads regular word documents through a memory card and prints them out in Braille.

“Braille Sense can cost between SR18,000 and SR30,000. Blind students can also use dictation applications that read out loud a written text. We are working on establishing centers for the blind inside universities. We have a couple of universities that have cooperated with us including King Saud University in Riyadh,” said Al-Hamdi.

She said the initiative aims to reach other countries in the Arab world as well.

“Our volunteers have to be computer savvy and should be able to use Microsoft Word. However, those who wish to join but do not have the essential technological knowledge can be a part of the team and learn over time. Our initiative aims to enable the blind to become authors and pursue higher education in various fields,” said Al-Hamdi.

Source :  Saudi Gazette

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