Braille Library Services

The Braille Library service was officially launched in October 1996 in the Nairobi area library at the headquarters community area.

Since the initial inception of the Kenya National Library Board in 1968, there had been neither service for the blind nor service for any other disabled. This contravened CAP 225, the laws of Kenya on which the knls was enacted which stipulates that library service shall be provided on the basis of equality of access without discriminating anyone on the basis of race religion, political party affiliation, or physical disability.

It was on the realization on this shortcoming that the knls board decided to start with the service for the blind and progressively later on to provide service for other disabilities like deaf, physically handicapped and any other.

The service for the blind started at the headquarters but later on cascaded to many other branches in the network, most of the provincial libraries provide the service for the blind, although not all districts and divisional libraries have the service this is due to some challenges that face provision of the service. Notably the common include very high cost of technologies and materials for the blind amongst others. These leaves Nairobi area library the most fairly developed unit in the network currently the services provided;

  • Braille books mostly fiction both adult and junior. The total braille stock comprises about 600 tittles; large print, most of which are adult, computer and internet service for the blind.
  • The unit has two computers with screen readers; Namely JOS and NVDA. These screen readers enable the visually impaired staff and visually impaired users alike to effectively access and use the computers
  • Large font magnifiers e.g. The smart view-American and CCTV-German technology

On each of these normal font texts is placed on a slide beneath the monitor where upon the text is reflected and magnified on the screen. The user can customize the magnified either to the background color or font color of their choice. Then they read slowly at their own this applies to the low vision users.

  • Audio books. audio navigators ,an e-book device and very easy to use each navigator contains 4-6 tittles. The device has a battery which is charged and has ease to use buttons the blind user switches it on, selects the tittle of their choice   and listens to the content read back to them.
  • The unit runs an outreach programme. The staff select materials and take them to special and regular schools within and around Nairobi city upto a radius of 80km from the headquarters.
  • Newly blinded users learn braille reading skills and mobility from the unit.
  • Referral service under the current Kenyan constitution persons with disabilities are entitled to tax exemption and good quality medicare. The staff in the unit have information on this where upon the newly blinded users are empowered with. The national council for persons with disability is mandated to register all persons with disabilities and recommend them for exemption to KRA.
  • Networking. The unit networks with other equal service providers e.g. Kenya society for the blind, Kenya institute for the blind etc. on the network platform information and materials for the blind are exchanged to enhance the service for the blind.
  • In-house production. The unit has a braille printer and other relevant technologies for in-house production. Relevant print books of the blind user’s choice are selected and reproduced in braille then processed for use by the blind.
  • The unit currently has about registered membership of 200. However the regularly cited members of the public stream into the unit either for personal information or inquire on behalf of their blind relatives and friend.

The unit embraces disability mainstreaming approach to the service other than the blind, all other types of disabilities are served regardless of age, sex or faith. Currently the unit has two members of staff both visually impaired.