The Malawi Union of the Blind (MUB) has urged the Malawi government to consider removing duty on devices and other materials that are used by the visually impaired persons.
This is according to MUB Executive Director Ezekiel Kumwenda who was speaking to the local media on Tuesday as the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating the world braille day which falls on January 4.
Kumwenda said most visually impaired Malawians face challenges in accessing social services claiming most of the necessary equipment and materials are too expensive to be purchased by an individual.
He added that MUB’s assessment on high prices for braille materials has revealed that companies that import braille materials into the country are charged more money when clearing such goods on Malawian borders.
Kumwenda further said giving braille materials a permanent free duty status will increase the availability of such materials in the country and reduce prices thereby enabling the visually impaired to be buying those materials on their own.
“People with visual impairment are facing a lot of challenges in the country, for example for us to produce braille it requires a lot of things to put them together such as braille papers, braille machines which are too expensive.
“We are then requesting the government to make sure that equipment for the Blind which are not locally manufactured should be given duty exemption when being imported into the country, so that visually impaired people can be easily buying them on their own,” said Kumwenda.
He said some of equipment and materials that need permanent free duty status include: Perkins Braille, Machine Money readers, Embossing machine, Braille papers, Braille wrist watches and white canes.
Kumwenda has since commended the Reserve Bank of Malawi for the awareness campaigns for the blind and visually impaired it conducted in December 2021 regarding the new currencies that it has issued and the K5,000 note to be issued in February this year.
He has also thanked the National Planning Commission for providing the Malawi 2063 vision document in accessible format for blind and visually impaired people.
World Braille day which falls on January 4 and commemorates the birthday of Louis Braille, born at Coupvray, France in 1809, who was credited for inventing braille, a widely used touch system of reading and writing for persons who are blind.