Muscat: For the first time in Oman, visually impaired students will be able to walk easily through Sultan Qaboos University’s (SQU’s) corridors, guided by newly installed Braille signs.
Braille is a tactile writing system used by the visually impaired, to read by touching the paper or board with their hands.
More than 30 students will benefit from this initiative, as SQU’s College of Arts and Social Sciences has recently placed 370 signboards all over the college’s departments, to help people with visual disabilities to become more independent.
“Instead of asking others for directions and room numbers, these signs will save them the time and the hassle of asking,” Muadh Al Raqqadi, an official at the college told the Times of Oman.
The signs are located in all rooms, including restrooms, prayer rooms, coffee shops and computer labs. Al Raqqadi explained that the signs are made of plastic with soft edges so they do not cause any injuries to passersby. Moreover, they are not affected by humidity.
“We used a special font and colour so people with visual difficulties can see it more clearly,” Al Raqqadi said, while adding that this initiative will be the first of its kind in Oman’s educational sector.
He added that the signs are placed at a suitable height so even people on a wheelchair can read them. The whole project was carried out locally as working with foreign companies will be much more costly, according to Al Raqqadi. “It would have cost us at least OMR15,000 if an external company did the job,” he said.
“This is just the first phase of a bigger project. We will translate more signs into Braille in the second phase,” he confirmed.
The college will soon open a special workshop for people with all sorts of disabilities. Al Raqqadi noted that a map is available now in Braille at every department’s entry, so blind students can easily navigate through the offices.
It is worth mentioning that the College of Arts and Social Sciences accommodates the highest number of students with disabilities in SQU, around 80 per cent of total students with disabilities.
In 2015, five new students with visual impairment and two with mobility impairment joined the college. The majority of them are studying history. The college gives special attention to this group of learners in order to motivate and encourage them to take the road of creativity and achievement like their able peers. Furthermore, the college also installed four elevators that helped disabled students move between the different floors easily.