Members of the blind community in Liberia are calling on government to write a version of the Liberian Constitution in Braille so blind citizens would have the opportunity to read it.
Braille is the writing system used by the blind and visually impaired.
The blind community’s representatives’ call came recently during public consultation organized by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) at the Tubman High School.
According to the representatives, who took part in the forum, the blind are often forgotten when government is making key public decisions; resulting in their community’s neglect.
“Considering the way we are treated, we don’t feel like a part of this country. The current Constitution review process is going forward while promising to include all members of society. Now is the time to reflect on treatment of the blind and visually impaired by providing us with copies of the nation’s most important document in Braille. It is just as important for us to read as it is for those with sight,” one representative stressed.
The representatives expressed their belief that The Liberian Constitution is a national tool that guides everyone, and in rewriting it government has to create conditions where every Liberian —regardless of his/her condition— would have access.
The public consultation forum’ aim was to solicit views from the public regarding what they want changed in the Liberian Constitution.
After the CRC consultation process gathers views from the public and compiles them, they will be submitted to the President who will in turn submit the CRC’s findings to the Legislature for debate to be followed by a national referendum.
Those with disabilities attending the consultative forum pushed for creation of a condition that would allow them to have access to public offices.
Many of the disabled— specifically the lame— noted that most public buildings are not easily accessible to them because of their inability to climb the steps in these building without the help of a ramps or other aids for the handicapped.
A member of the group gave the example of disabled students being unable to attend classes at the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia because of the steps. He complained that this was an obstacle that denied them their right to higher education.
The Constitution Review Committee’s organized forum brought together students, community leaders, and members of the physically challenged community among others.
One popular view put forward for consideration was for the Constitution to be taught in schools across the country.
It was proposed by a female participant and almost unanimously supported by the rest. The participants felt teaching the constitution would give students insight about their constitutional rights and responsibilities.
One speaker emphasized that article 10 of the Constitution makes it clear that it (the Constitution) should be taught in schools; yet, many Liberians are unaware of this fact.
Responding to the many issues that emerged during the forum, CRC’s head for Civil Society, Soko Sackor explained that the committee was not the decision maker, rather, an implementer of tasks.
He said the decision to make the Constitution what Liberians wanted it to be was up to the citizens themselves.
He closed by promising all their views would be taken to the committee and given special attention to— with extra consideration for views coming from the nation’s physically challenged community.