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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Brailling Service.

Thursday, 28 March 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 463 No. 5

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 6. Mr. Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6692/96]

 13. Mr. Foley Information on Denis Foley Zoom on Denis Foley  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6696/96]

 22. Mr. E. Ryan Information on Eoin Ryan Zoom on Eoin Ryan  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6699/96]

 29. Mr. T. Kitt Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6695/96]

 30. Mr. O'Leary Information on John O'Leary Zoom on John O'Leary  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6698/96]

[1376]

 33. Mr. J. Walsh Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6694/96]

 39. Dr. Moffatt Information on Tom Moffatt Zoom on Tom Moffatt  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6700/96]

 41. Mr. M. Kitt Information on Michael P. Kitt Zoom on Michael P. Kitt  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6702/96]

 48. Mr. Hughes Information on Séamus Hughes Zoom on Séamus Hughes  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6701/96]

 52. Mr. O'Donoghue Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6697/96]

 57. Mr. N. Treacy Information on Noel Treacy Zoom on Noel Treacy  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6703/96]

 68. Mr. Cullen Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen  asked the Minister for Education Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  if she will consider the development of a new system and operation for the production of brailled books and the provision of a comprehensive brailling service for braille dependent students. [6693/96]

[1377]Ms Bhreathnach: Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 13, 22, 29, 30, 33, 39, 41, 48, 52, 57 and 68 together.

It is my policy to provide suitable equipment and reading materials, including Perkins braillers and brailled reading materials, to pupils with visual impairments who need them both in ordinary and special schools. Requests for conversion of specific textbooks into braille come through my Department's visiting teacher service and directly from the special schools for pupils with visual impairments.

The service for the brailling of textbooks for students with visual impairment is provided, through an arrangement between my Department and the Department of Justice, by Arbour Hill Prison. The brailling process at Arbour Hill uses modern computer-based technology. The equipment is supplied and funded by the Department of Justice. The cost of brailling textbooks is borne by my Department and are supplied free to students at first and second levels.

The service provided by Arbour Hill is reviewed on a continuing basis by officials of my Department. The visiting teacher service of my Department is in regular contact with students with visual impairments, their parents and their teachers. I am assured that they find the existing service satisfactory.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister's assurance that the parents find the system satisfactory is extraordinary given that the question was tabled on foot of complaints from parents and particularly from one organisation representing children with visual impairment. I ask the Minister to consider taking complete control of the braille service, the production of books, repair of braille machines and so on. The Department of Education should contact DCU or UCD where technology is available to develop a first class service.

Is the Minister concerned that some students have experienced delays of up to six months in getting the required school books? Children with visual [1378] impairment should not be disadvantaged in securing textbooks, they should receive a similar service to that provided for other children. I am concerned that parents who have to bring braille machines to Arbour Hill very often have to wait with their children in the prison waiting room. It is unfair and unsatisfactory in this modern age that people with such a disability are treated in that way.

Ms Bhreathnach: Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach I am concerned that students feel they are treated badly. There are no more than 70 students in the education system who are fully braille dependent. Two years ago complaints were made of delays in providing school books. That arose from the fact that there were many textual changes within the curriculum and the books were not sent to Arbour Hill in time for the start of the new school year. There was genuine concern that the matter was not treated with the required urgency. I have been assured that these difficulties have been overcome. There will be a meeting with the authorities in Arbour Hill, representatives of special schools and the visiting teacher service in the near future to discuss existing arrangements.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I ask the Minister to investigate the matter further. Will she agree to meet the organisation involved — I will supply the names to her? It is important that she directly hear the views of those availing of the service. I urge her to seriously consider establishing a new system because I am informed that the existing system is a hit and miss affair, with no continuity or consistency in delivery of the service. The children involved deserve the best and should be treated in the same way as other school children. I urge the Minister to consider using the available technologies in DCU and UCD to establish a new system, which would also provide considerable employment.

Ms Bhreathnach: Information on Niamh Bhreathnach Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach I share the Deputy's concern that these students feel in any [1379] way discriminated against. The forum referred to will provide an opportunity for representatives from the special schools in question, the visiting teacher service and the authorities in Arbour Hill to express their concerns. I visited the brailling service in UCD and was surprised at the process that must be gone through in brailling a book. Some publishers are very helpful in that they do not allow copyright laws to get in the way of making discs available, which would be a much easier and quicker service. Technology is improving all the time and the education needs of these students will be met by the Department.


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