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“Hope Makers,” a Center for Teaching Blind Persons “Braille” System in Rural Aleppo  

Two persons with disabilities playing chess in the center – January 2, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Two persons with disabilities playing chess in the center – January 2, 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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Early in 2018, several young blind persons started learning reading methods with the “Braille” system in a specialized center in the city of Azaz, northern rural Aleppo, opened by the Turkish “iHH” organization, to be the first center allocated to persons with disabilities in general, and blind persons in particular.

The center, called “Dar Suna’ al-Amal” (Hope Makers House), started providing its services in April 2018, offering care to persons with disabilities and elderly, in addition to physical therapy and the education of blind persons and those with hearing and speech impairments.

Mohammad, one of the center’s blind teacher, told Enab Baladi that he used to teach the “Braille” system in a center in the city of Aleppo. Today, he is teaching it to a group of young people as to help them adopt to the reality they are living.

The young man explained that teaching the system is done with a speaking cellphone program, in addition to other methods, the fundamentals of which are provided in the class room.

 

What Is “Braille”?

“Braille” is a system of raised points, six in number, representing alphabet and numbers, which can be felt by fingers and interpreted as letters, numerals, musical notes, mathematics and science symbols.

It is a system used and approached by blind and visually impaired persons, who rely on the sense of touch.

“Braille” is named after its inventor Louis Braille, who came up with it in the 19th century, after losing his sight in an accident at the age of 15, 1824, the thing that triggered him to create the “Braille” system, using the French alphabet to help him read.

Braille also wrote the musical notes in 1829.

The “Braille” letters are small rectangular shapes called “cells,” which have clear small bumps.

The letters of the “Braille” system differ according to language, and related printed writing systems and symbols. In addition to this, “Braille” system has three levels of coding in English.

Three Departments

The “Hope Makers” Center consists of 10 rooms, divided into four departments.

According to Abdul Karim al-Yousef, one of the administrative figures in the center, the first department is administrative, dedicated for conducting surveys and documenting the cases of persons with disabilities in the city of Azaz. The second department is allocated for elderly, offering them medical services, food and drinks.

Concerning the third department, al-Yousef explained that it is assigned for physical therapy. There is also the last department, and the most important, as it is allocated for teaching blind persons and integrating them into society. It offers the recipients the service of transporting them from and to their homes.

In the center, there are about 231 persons with disabilities, according to al-Yousef, who said that donor organizations have provided the center with a car, allocated for blind persons, as it brings them to the center from their homes, and takes them back after classes.

The United Nations celebrates “Braille” International Day on 4 January each year, with the language being used in many fields, especially in Europe, following an EU decision in 2005 that urged for the use of the system.

In November 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating the fourth of January of every year as the World Braille Day, beginning in 2019, to raise awareness of the importance of this system as a means of communication with the blind persons.

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