Vodacom opens library for the visually impaired

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Bereng Mpaki

TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant, Vodacom Lesotho, this week opened a digital library for the visually-impaired in Maseru.

Dubbed the Vodacom Insight Centre, the library is housed in the State Library.

The centre is expected to provide access to specialised services, books, and materials in appropriate media for visually impaired persons.

“Vodacom Lesotho through its charitable arm, Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, today announced the official opening of Vodacom Insight Center, a library for the blind and visually impaired persons,” Vodacom said in a statement this week.

“Situated at the State Library, the centre will enable equal access and inclusion by providing visually impaired persons with specialised services, books and materials in appropriate media.”

The digital library will harness Vodacom’s 4G technology to bring world class equipment that caters for the special needs of the visually impaired.

“Supported by Vodacom’s 4G technology, the digital library hosts the latest innovation and technology with functionalities including  but are not limited to:  a world-leading braille translator that supports more than 170 languages in either contracted on uncontracted braille; a high volume production braille printer; a self-contained motion-activated reading device that instantly reads from any book or printed material; and a rechargeable digital talking book reader which enables visually impaired people or those with print disabilities to read digital documents on memory cards or memory sticks.”

Vodacom Lesotho managing director, Mohale Ralebitso, said they were committed to harnessing the power of technology to address social challenges and ensure that they leave no one behind.

“At the heart of the Vodacom Foundation Insight Centre is a focus on accessibility. We are excited to launch this project as part of our CSI initiatives to help improve the lives of visually impaired people through the use of technology. As a purpose-led corporate citizen, we have committed to harnessing the power of technology to address social challenges and ensure that we leave no one behind; and the opening of this digital library is a testament to that commitment.”

On his part, the chairperson of the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation’s Board of Trustees, John Matlosa, said the foundation was mandated to invest in critical areas of development, in line with the government’s national strategic development plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

“This programme is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ‘ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities’ and we are only happy to contribute to the provision of equal access and inclusion to the blind and visually impaired persons through the creation of enabling environment for them to access information,” Mr Matlosa said.

He added that the foundation sought to fulfill the promise to read for the visually impaired and other print-disabled people by advocating for the implementation of the changes required by the Marrakesh Treaty to which Lesotho is a signatory.

“The Marrakesh Treaty is mandated to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind or otherwise print-disabled through the improvement of access to knowledge for print-disabled people by giving organisations like libraries the right to reproduce printed works in accessible formats such as Braille, audio, large print, and digital formats, and to exchange these works across national borders.”

Established in 2009, Vodacom Lesotho Foundation invests in critical areas of development, in line with the government’s national strategic development plan. Since 2009, the foundation has invested over M100 million in health, education, social welfare, gender equity and women empowerment, youth empowerment, sports and cultural development.

The foundation, in partnership with Vodafone Foundation, has committed to investing a further M120 million in Lesotho over the next five years. The investment will be channeled to entrepreneurship and economic development, education and health.

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