[A2k] A Tale Of A Visually Impaired Reader

Judit Rius Sanjuan judit.rius at keionline.org
Fri Nov 12 03:22:07 PST 2010


A Tale Of A Visually Impaired Reader
Intellectual Property Watch
11 November 2010

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.

By Mohammed Mohsin Abrahim El Nagaar

I’d like to introduce myself and put my personal experience in the hands of all concerned parties and people, hoping that this will help to give a better comprehension (explain) about the situation of blind people and to help reach an international treaty that will facilitate access to knowledge for people with visual impairments.

My name is Mohammed Mohsin Abrahim El Nagaar. I was born in 1969. I am a professor in the faculty of law at Alexandria University Law School and am also a legal consultant in the authority of Egyptian Maritime Safety.

First, I will talk about the extreme suffering I faced during my primary school education. The only way for me to access knowledge was through books printed in Braille, and the only way to express to express myself was to write in Braille. It was very difficult as there was a scarcity in the culture and educational materials available in Braille. At the same time, the books that were printed this way were huge in size, and very few.

The only Braille books that were available were text books that were part of the syllabus curriculum at school. The other way I could access information was to listen to media such as radio or asking people and having them describe it. It was the same situation in preparatory and secondary school.

But in preparatory and secondary school, I grew more comfortable asking people to read printed books to me. Also, people came to the school to volunteer reading the books. And this way was more effective as a way to access knowledge.

In the university phase, the Braille books disappeared totally and were not available at all. The only way to access knowledge for a blind person was to get someone to read to him, as all the university text books were printed in the normal way. Even in the printed exams, I had to get someone that I dictated my answer to and he would write it. It was very difficult to find someone to read who would be available whenever I needed to study. Another problem was that the curriculum was extensive, with many books to read.

So this is why other blind students and I used to use a tape recorder to record the person who was reading for us so we could listen to those tapes later.

Thank God I passed this phase (the undergraduate) successfully so I could go on to another phase and fulfil my ambitions. I got an LLB [a law degree], and went on to my PhD.

In the PhD phase it was very difficult and very complicated, because how could I read and review the material I needed for my PhD in and endless amount reference books in different languages.

This is the way I handled it: first, I photocopied the reference books I could not afford to buy, as they were very expensive. Then I had someone read that photocopied material, and I recorded it on tape. This way I had a huge library of audio reference material for my thesis.

Yet, it wasn’t that easy to reach certain information or certain detail in this huge number of audio tapes. With a great effort, I was able to finish my thesis and got my PhD. I am proud of the thesis I produced as it is a valuable text entitled, “Franchising Contract.” I have taught commercial law and maritime law at Alexandra University and at Arabic Beirut University since 2001.

As I am interested in intellectual property issues from an academic point of view, as I teach and I do research in this area, plus have a personal experience in the issue of access to knowledge, I thought I can express my support to the project of creating a WIPO Treaty for an Improved Access for Blind, Visually-Impaired and Other Reading Disabled Persons.

And on this occasion, I would like to offer to volunteer to participate in helping in drafting or commenting on the suggested provisions of the project, and am honoured to welcome any cooperation that leads to access to knowledge and more access to knowledge in a way that realises the balance between the interests of the visually impaired people and the right to read and review and the interests of the rights holders.

God helps those who want to help themselves. This is why I believe that a great achievement needs a lot of work and I believe that we are able to offer this effort and of course at the end we will achieve success. Finally, I would like to appeal to the Egyptian government and all Arab governments to support the treaty.

With due respect and God help us all.

Mohammed Mohsin Abrahim El Nagaar is a professor in the faculty of law at Alexandria University Law School, and a legal consultant in the authority of Egyptian Maritime Safety.

This is the unofficial translation of a text originally submitted in Arabic. The Arabic version is available here.

Judit Rius Sanjuan
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
NYC Phone: 212 222 5180
Washington DC Phone: 202 332 2670

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