The Qatari Forum for Authors organized a special online session on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Braille, which falls on January 4th every year. During the session, the Forum hosted Mr. Faisal Al-Kooheji, Chairman of the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind, to talk about the cultural concerns of this group of people in our society.

Mr. Faisal Al-Kooheji initially defined Braille as a method of displaying alphanumeric symbols using the sense of touch, noting that it enables the blind to read books and various publications in bold, and it is in constant development; especially in the field of printing.

Moreover, Mr. Al-Kooheji, during the session moderated by writer Mukhtar Khawaja, indicated that the Braille method was not affected by modern technologies, and that audio books and speaking-centered applications will not dispense with it, although they form an addition to it, because according to global statistics there are still more than 150 million blind people around the world who use this method in reading, referring to the existence of modern technologies and applications that convert audio material into printed material in Braille by using the braille-supporting lines.

He also talked about the challenges and burdens posed by the Braille method, the most important of which is the high cost of its printers, whether personal printers for individuals or publishers’ printers, as well as the troubles of the revision process at the stage of preparing the book to be readable, in addition to the need for printing to use a lot of paper; for example printing the Qur’an in Braille is equivalent to 6 volumes of non-Braille printed versions and each volume is twice the size of the regular printer Qur’an.


Regarding the major challenges and obstacles facing educating the blind, the Chairman of the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind said that one of the most prominent problems facing the blind in the world is the difficulty and lack of access to data and information in general due to the lack of Braille printing, pointing out that there are efforts in the State of Qatar to try to overcome these obstacles through the Center in light of the Qatar National Library’s endeavor to print a number of books in Braille, in addition to a project by the Cultural Village Foundation -Katara to establish printing in Braille method; all of which are commendable Qatari efforts to overcome obstacles encountered by the blind.

Mr. Faisal Al-Kooheji also touched on the interest of the Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind in promoting culture among its members by following up on the latest developments at the international level, as well as presenting recommendations to the concerned authorities in Qatar in this regard; including the Marrakesh Agreement issued in 2013 to facilitate access to published works for the benefit of blind persons, or the visually impaired, or those with other disabilities in reading the publications, and communicating with institutions in the country on this concern. “The Center also offers some courses in writing and reading in Braille.”, Mr. Al-Kooheji added.