19 February 2013

Uganda: The Blind Can Now See the Bible

But, during the launch of the Braille Bible by the Bible Society of Uganda last week, it was clear that to the blind, Braille is everything. The launch was at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu) offices in Kampala.

For several years now, there was no complete Bible written using Braille to spiritually cater for the blind. But with a full Bible now, Emmanuel Turinawe, the project coordinator at the Bible Society, believes many will not only use the Bible as a reference material, but also to encourage them start up their own churches. Braille enables blind people to read with their fingers.

"Many of these people are gifted in so many ways; some can sing, play musical instruments, while others can preach the word of God. So, with the Braille Bible now, it is their opportunity to minister to God," stressed Turinawe.

Turinawe says there has been a braille Bible before, but it lacked a compilation of the books and some chapters too were missing. This particular one, comprising 43 volumes of books from the entire Bible is complete.

It is the first of its kind in Uganda and cost Shs1.3m to have only one volume. And since Braille language is usually in large print, there is no way material would be compressed into one book. So there are several volumes of the Bible, in about seven boxes.

Asked about access and portability, Turinawe said: "In churches like the Catholic church, it will be good if priests let us know early from which book, the day's readings will be so that one moves with only two books instead of the entire volumes."

The Bible society has also contributed Christian literature in form of children's Bibles and scripture stories. For the non-visually impaired, Isaac Ashinda of the Bible Society said there are on-phone and CD Bibles in the different local languages to cater for those with hearing defects, and the illiterate.

Edson Ngirabakunzi, the Nudipu Executive Director, praised the Bible Society for the good gesture of inclusion, which their institution is advocating. Nudipu knows about inclusion - or is it exclusion - more than any other.

It is 22 years now since Esther Kyozira, the programmes manager at Nudipu, lost her sight. With the Braille Bible, Kyozira like many visually-impaired persons hopes to access information easily and read the Bible at the same level with others. She also trusts she will read scriptures often in her church on Sunday, at Kireka rehabilitation centre.

"I have always been depending on my sighted friends and that means I listened carefully and interpreted what they read. All this will be no more, because I will feel the reading myself," Kyozira said.

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