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Nigerwives Braille Book Production Centre

,Nigerwives ,braille ,book ,production ,centre

Contact information

         Telephone No: (234) 01-270-0631

         Mail address: P. O. Box 54224, Falomo, Lagos, Nigeria

         Physical address: Kings College Annexe,  Adeyemo Alakija St., Victoria Island, Lagos

         Email: info@nigerwives4braille.com

         Website: http://www.nigerwives4braille.com/

[Note: On this website the term blind includes those who are blind and those who are visually impaired.]

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Welcome to the website of the Nigerwives Braille Book Production Centre.  The Centre is a national charity project of Nigerwives-Nigeria (RC5527), an association of foreign wives of Nigerians resident in Nigeria. The aims of the association include:

       to work for the smooth integration of foreign wives into Nigerian Society and family life;

       to keep abreast of regulations and proposals relating to the status of foreign wives of Nigerian citizens resident in Nigeria;

       to establish or assist in social projects of benefit to the Nigerian community.

Mission of the Centre

To provide educational services for the blind to enable them to achieve their optimum educationally and attain an independent livelihood as adults, contributing positively to the communities in which they live and work. 

Background information to the project

It was in consonance with the last of the above aims that the Lagos Branch gave attention to the plight of blind students in secondary schools in Lagos. In the early 1980s several members taught in schools where blind students were enrolled alongside their sighted peers and they observed that these pupils did not have textbooks in a format they could access. This was brought to the notice of the branch and from then on members started recording needed textbooks on cassettes. A cassette copying machine was bought and blind pupils from schools in all parts of Nigeria heard of the project and found ways of ordering the cassettes. Over 200 titles were produced during the 1980s and into the 1990s.

By the 1990s computers were coming into use for producing brailled textbooks; the cassettes were filling a big gap but a book you listen to is not as good as a book you can read and go backwards and forwards. We therefore decided to look into what was required for braille production and eventually took a proposal to the Annual General Meeting of Nigerwives - which now had branches in many of the states - to set up a braille production centre as a national charity project. Approval was given provided the funding could be sourced. Funding came through oil contacts of the late Alhaji Bayero - the then Head of NNPC - whose wife Maria was a member of Nigerwives in Lagos. The Centre was formally opened in 1995, in a portakabin in the NNPC compound in Falomo, Lagos.

The Centre pioneered the use of computers for producing brailled textbooks in Nigeria.  When it started in March 1995 brailled textbooks were an extremely expensive and scarce commodity in Nigeria. Fifteen years on we can look back and see that the existence of the Nigerwives Centre has certainly changed that for the better. Braille users can access the Centre by e-mail, telephone or phone, obtain a booklist, place an order, pay for them through their local bank, and receive them by post. The policy of selling the books at the same price as the print books - even though they cost much more to produce - is still in place as part of our equal opportunity policy.

Sponsors of our activities

The question we are often asked: "How do you fund the Centre and its activities?" Since the Centre started up in 1995 we have depended on corporate bodies, organisations, individuals, church groups, lodges, Nigerwives branches, and others for funds to carry on the day to day activities, pay salaries, purchase diesel for the generator, subsidising the book production and other services. The Centre receives no funding from government. Sourcing funds has become increasingly difficult so ware in the process of setting up a Trust Fund which eventually will be able to finance the running of the Centre. Many would-be donors and organisations do not like to fund salaries or administrative costs directly; they prefer to donate tangible items. The fact is that however many computers, printers, etc. we have, if we do not have the funds to pay salaries the items cannot be used. We believe that donors will be more confident about paying money in a trust fund. [Click here for details of the Trust Fund.]

Services provided

Production of brailled books

This has been our major service from the beginning of the Centre.  Initially the emphasis was on books at the secondary level but later we started to produce books for primary level pupils as well. Our books are produced on recycled papers in order to reduce the cost of the books.  The paper has to be of heavier quality (approx. 170gm) in order to retain the embossing of the dots.  To this end we collect quality calendars, magazines and any other obsolete printed material of suitable weight, cut it to A4 size and recycle it into brailled books.  What is printed on the paper does not disturb the braille reader because he/she cannot see it.  Over the years many people - individuals, church groups, schools and printers - have supplied us with obsolete printed material but we can never have too much.  Braille is much more voluminous than print so it takes much more paper.  Our thanks go to all those who collect the paper for us.  We ask you to continue and invite others to join in the task.  It also contributes to a greener environment.  Currently we have a booklist of over 250 titles that are available on request and new titles are continually being added. [Click here for access to the booklists: secondary, primary]

Computer Training (Click for more details & application form) [Click here]

The Computer Training programme started in January 2004. It is aimed primarily at blind graduates. Using screen reading software which replaces seeing with hearing, blind persons can access print documents and respond to them, as do sighted users, with the same type of computer. This enables them to work effectively in regular work situations. As of now, most employers recruiting young graduates will not consider blind applicants because they consider that they cannot work effectively in administrative positions. We need help in changing this attitude and would welcome discussions on this with Human Resource Personnel.

We are currently working at expanding the range of software that features in the training programme to match what the corporate world requires. To this end we are seeking input from corporate employers to identify the additional software required.

Reading Project and Braille Literacy

When this project started in 2003, most blind children in special schools in Nigeria had little or no opportunity to develop braille reading skills through general reading - skills which are the key to accessing information for their educational development. Since 2003, the Braille Institute Press in California has been sending generous consignments of brailled general reading books for distribution to children in Nigeria through the Nigerwives Centre. Initially the books were sent to special schools in states where a branch of Nigerwives exists and volunteers were asked to provide a book shelf to set up a reading corner and to visit the schools for reading sessions with the children. In some schools reading competitions have also been organised. Now books are sent out periodically to any known school that enrols blind students, including secondary schools, so book corners can now be found in all parts of the country.

There is no doubt that this project has had a very positive impact on the braille reading skills of children in the special schools over the past few years. It also has introduced them to the reading culture and broadened their horizons. The books continue to come and we are indeed greatly indebted to the Braille Institute Press for their continued generosity of the books and all the human resources that go into sending them.

[Click here to see photos of some of the children who received the books] 

Access to Mathematics for the Blind

Mathematics is a problem subject for many sighted students but it is more of a problem for the blind, the major difficulties being with diagrams and calculations but there is also a problem with typing Mathematics assignments for teachers to mark. A regular typewriter, which most of the blind secondary school students use for producing assignments, does not include keys for quite a few mathematical symbols. Most of these students in secondary school are marginalised with respect to Mathematics. The handling of mathematics at the Primary Level is poor in most of the special primary schools and when they move up to secondary school, the teachers say they cannot handle mathematics with blind students. Mathematics is a compulsory subject up to the end of secondary school so it is a right for all students to have access to it. It is also a compulsory requirement for many tertiary courses.

The Nigerwives Centre has organised Mathematics workshops for the students and their teachers to show both that, although there are hurdles to be overcome, it is not an impossible subject for blind students. The Centre has produce diagram boards locally, which both students and teachers can use effectively to produce tactile diagrams. Two calculating devices (abacus and Taylor Frame) are imported and sold at cost price to end-users. Instructions for these have been produced in both print and braille so with practice students can learn to use them efficiently. In the developed parts of the world talking calculators are used but these are beyond the reach of almost all the blind students in schools in Nigeria. The workshops conducted by the Centre have been well received by the participants in the workshops and they ask for more. We appreciate the input of both individuals and corporate bodies who have helped to fund the workshops so far held and look forward to being able to source the funds to organise more. More details of the workshops can be found in the newsletters. [Click here to view pictures from the workshops.]

Working with other service providers

We believe in working with other service providers so that maximum benefit can be gained from available resources and wasteful duplication of effort can be avoided. We therefore team up with others to provide services to the blind. The following are some of our partners in service.

Anglo-Nigeria Welfare Association for the Blind (ANWAB)

The Director of ANWAB is a blind lawyer who requested assistance in setting up a similar facility to the Nigerwives Centre, with emphasis on the production of brailled books and also providing some rehabilitation services and daily living skills for the blind. We happily helped ANWAB to get started and continue to work closely with them, knowing full well that even two Centres could not provide all the braille book needs of the blind in Nigeria. We share our completed book titles and work together in many other aspects of service to the blind to avoid duplication.

Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB)

This is an association for all blind persons in Nigeria. There are state branches in each state. The Nigerwives Centre cooperates with NAB in many areas; the six blind members of staff are members. Most recently we cooperated with them in pursuing a copyright issue for the access of print materials in alternative formats for the blind. We hope this will lead to interactions with publishers which in turn could result in being able to produce books in braille more quickly.

Recently the Lagos Branch of NAB held an awareness event where they recognised persons, organizations, public bodies and government departments that have demonstrated a positive attitude towards blindness issues and persons who are blind. A leaflet was presented at the event to educate the general public on blindness issues, how to interact with blind persons and where to find help with blindness issues. It is available for general circulation in the community. Click here to access the leaflet and where you can obtain copies.

Lagos State Ministry of Education

Over the past few years we have had increased interaction with the Lagos State Ministry of Education; this has been very beneficial to blind students enrolled in schools in Lagos State. Our interaction includes joint participation in workshops and exhibitions, supplying brailled textbooks and brailling of examination papers. The last puts the blind students on an equal footing with their sighted peers because each has his/her own exam paper in a format each can access. The teachers too are happy that they no longer have to read exam papers, which is quite taxing for both students and teachers.

On behalf of the blind students, we thank and congratulate Lagos State Ministry of Education for giving a lead in providing blind children with equal opportunity in education alongside their sighted peers.

Sightsavers Kaduna

The Centre was invited to produce books in four subjects for a Primary School Project in Kaduna for the 2009/10 session. They were all new titles and we look forward to receiving a report of how both students and teachers found the books, and to being involved in more such projects. We are also looking into the use of large print books with them.

Soroptimist/Unilag Resource Centre

In 2009 we were asked by Soroptimist International Eko Branch to suggest a project that would serve blind students at the University of Lagos. A resource centre that provides internet access and text materials in various alternative formats was proposed and accepted. The University provide space and the Centre was formally opened by the Vice-Chancellor in February 2010. The centre is still finding its feet but there is no doubt that it will help to equalise the study facilities available to blind students with those that sighted students take for granted. Soroptimist provide the finance for the project and the Nigerwives Centre provides the technical support.

National Braille Council of Nigeria (Nabracon)

Nabracon is an association that brings together producers, educators and end-users of braille of which the Nigerwives Centre is a member. Nabracon is a member of the International Council of English which is a forum for national braille authorities to create awareness of what is happening in the English braille field and pursues projects that will promote the use of English braille internationally. For over a decade the member countries were working on a Unified English Braille Code (UEB) UK braille and US braille vary to some extent to harmonise differences and provide symbols for new print symbols such as those introduced with new technology. Nabracon has accepted updated code for use in Nigeria and the Nigerwives Centre uses it for the titles they publish and is involved in promoting its use generally. The Unified English Braille Primer and the UEB Technical Guidelines are available through the Nigerwives Centre and on the website of the International Council of English Braille, www.iceb.org.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

CNIB assisted the Centre with the start up of producing Primary level books some years back. It is now helping us to produce the digital files for some updates of existing titles on our book and new titles. Nationally there have been some major changes in the curriculum at the Primary and Junior Secondary Level causing most publishers to update their textbooks. They also need to be updated in braille and CNIB has taken on board some of them. Special mention is made of the JSS French series On y va which they have put in braille for us. This is the first French series that we have on our book list. We hear that the blind do extremely well as interpreters because they are not easily distracted so we hope that the introduction of these braille editions of On y Va will in time yield some efficient blind interpreters. We are most grateful to CNIB for all the help they give our Centre.

Volunteers

Useful braille websites

www.iceb.org International Council on English Braille

For information on the Unified English Braille Code and the International Phonetics Alphabet (IPA)

www.bauk.org.uk Braille Authority of the United Kingdom

www.brailleauthority.org Braille Authority of North America