BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei Darussalam National Association of the Blind (BDNAB) is looking to raise money for the construction of a permanent facility to provide education and employment training for the visually-impaired.

BDNAB President Muhammad Hamzi Omar said the building would be located in Rimba, on a site allocated by the government.

“[It] will be a training centre for blind and partially-sighted people, providing them with training on how to become independent, manage their daily lives, learn basic braille as well as how to use visual aids equipment,” he told The Scoop last week.

The BDNAB organised a “Dining in the Dark” event last Wednesday in conjunction with World Sight Day, to kickstart fundraising for the organisation’s permanent building.

However, construction of the facility will only begin once the Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Ability — of which the blind association is a member — build their headquarters and multipurpose hall on the government-allotted land.

The multipurpose hall will be built next year — financed by the government — and can be utilised by all nine member organisations of the council. The government has also provided each member NGO with land to build their own facilities, but at their own expense.

BDNAB treasurer, Dyg Noor Ani Adriana Adanan, said they are still trying to ascertain how much money they will need to raise, as the building will need to be equipped with tactile pathways and braille maps for the visually-impaired.

Minister of Development, YB Dato Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar (C) attends  “Dining in the Dark”, an event to help raise funds for the blind association on Dec 12, 2018. Photo: Rasidah HAB/The Scoop

During the “Dining in the Dark” event, the Minister of Development, YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar, stressed the importance of inclusion and public support for those with visual impairments.

Last month, the ministry launched the Different Abilities Design Guideline booklet aimed at making public buildings — such as mosques, government buildings and commercial premises — more inclusive.

He added that such changes were necessary if Brunei is to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the government ratified on April 11, 2016.