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Braille Bible keeps growing

09 January 2015

by a staff reporter


In touch: Filippino boys with Braille Bibles 

In touch: Filippino boys with Braille Bibles 

WEIGHING more than 40 kilos, standing two metres tall, and made of up to 48 separate volumes, the Bible in Braille is a huge production undertaking.

It costs 50 times as much to produce a Braille Bible as it does a print Bible, but, thanks to the work of charities such as the United Bible Societies (UBS), there are now thousands in existence around the world.

Although the print Bible has been translated into more than 500 languages, there are still only 40 full translations of the Bible into Braille, although an increasing number are being requested, the head of UBS Global Ministry, Programs for people with visual disability, Ingrid Felber-Bischof, said.

The greatest demand comes from developing countries, where 90 per cent of the world's visually impaired population live.

Ms Felber-Bischof said: "The highest numbers of blind people are found in India and China, owing to the healthcare situation in those countries, and the high rate of some infections.

"Blind people are often excluded from taking part in church because the community want to show God their 'best' people, and blindness can still be seen as a curse. So giving someone a Braille Bible helps them to be included in their society."

In some countries, such as Ghana, the Bible is used as the textbook in schools for the blind to teach children to read Braille.

And in some countries, creating a Braille Bible has required first the creation of the Braille system in the local language. In Burkhina Faso, there was no Braille code in existence; so, when the Bible Society created the first Braille Bible, it also created a Braille system for two local languages, which benefited all those with visual impairments in the country.

UBS is currently working on two new translations of the Bible into Braille: in the Kirundi language of Burundi, and in Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda.

"We also have a big project in the Sinhala language, where the print Bible was revisited, and so the Braille Bible needed to be revised too."

Braille Bibles are sent out free of charge whenever a request comes in, paid for by donations from Bible Societies all over the world.

World Braille Day, which commemorates the birth of Louis Braille, who began developing the system at the age of 12, fell on Sunday 4 January.

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