Events, Holidays, Muslim converts, Other, Stories, USA, Women in Islam

Black Friday deals for the blind?

By Heather Albright

This is my cat, Mini, looking out the window, maybe giving me a look for taking the picture!

As-salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

Alhamdulillah and Mashallah! I recently managed to acquire tools for my blind friends abroad who require assistance. It surprised me to learn that some of them lacked access to basic aids like a white cane, which the National Federation of the Blind provides for free in the USA. I’ve always taken for granted the ease of replacing my cane if it breaks. Similarly, the NFB also offers free slates, styluses, and a program providing talking medical devices like scales and blood pressure machines, but unfortunately, these aren’t accessible overseas. However, I stumbled upon a slate and stylus that doesn’t require reverse thinking when writing in Braille, making it easier for those accustomed to the Perkins style. You can find it here: Read-and-Write-Slate.

The Arabic Braille code reads from right to left, similar to English Braille. While many Braille systems follow this orientation, some exceptions exist. Limited access to Braille materials is a challenge, especially in places where most individuals focus on learning English to utilize the UEB (Unified English Braille) code for information.

I’ve managed to obtain these items from Canada, but they don’t ship to Africa where there’s a significant need. Hence, I plan to ship these tools from my place to Africa, insha’Allah.

For instance, in Nigeria, sturdy graphite canes would cost a staggering $49,000, a price beyond affordability. A Perkins Brailler in the USA costs about $900 before shipping. I initiated this project nearly six months ago, and now I have the canes and the slate; I’m awaiting their arrival from Canada, insha’Allah.

Braille education is scarce overseas. Very few blind individuals have access to Braille or are proficient in reading it. One of my friends simply desires a cane and a read-and-write slate to label items for personal use and to teach blind students how to read Braille.

Reflecting on this, it’s essential to be grateful for everything we have, considering that others lack even 5% of what we possess. As the focus shifts to Black Friday deals and consumerism, I urge everyone to consider those who lack basic necessities, like a cane for safe mobility or tools for education.

Alhamdulillah for everything!