South African Library for the Blind Centenary Talking Points

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Celebrating 100 years of service.

  • The South African Library for the Blind is a non-profit organisation, which has offered library services to blind and visually impaired people of South Africa since 1919.
  • The South African Library for the Blind will commemorate its centenary in 2019.
  • Throughout its 100 years of existence the library has stood as a beacon of hope and service excellence.
  • A Centenary book about the Library’s 100-year history will be launched on the 28th of March 2019.
  • The book launch will be followed by a gala dinner on the 28th of March 2019 in Makhanda Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
  • During the National Arts Festival taking place in June/July 2019, the Library will host an arts and crafts exhibition. All works on exhibit will be by blind and visually impaired people.


The South African Library for the Blind is an unrivalled repository for knowledge and learning.

  • The library employs 49 fulltime staff, and has a membership of 7047.
  • It has 42 365 audio books, of which 8473 are unique titles.
  • It has 26 164 braille titles, of which 4314 are unique titles.
  • It has 135 tactile books for pre-school children (a tactile picture book is a book that is read with the fingers. The pictures in a tactile picture book consist of raised shapes in different materials).
  • The library houses five braille newspapers and two audio newspapers, as well as six braille magazines.
  • The library also has 126 digital mini libraries across South Africa.


The South African Library for the Blind is a concrete example of our dedication to equality and human dignity for all.

  • The library strives to make a contribution to Africa by being an available resource of advice and expertise for all visually impaired persons.
  • It produces documents in special mediums such as braille and audio formats for use by its readers.
  • It develops standards for the production of such documents, and acquires and disseminates the technology required by people with print disabilities to read.


We are working to ensure that no disabled person is left behind.

  • Government is committed to do more to reach out to people with disabilities and ensure no one is left behind.
  • Every person with a disability should have the same opportunities as everyone else so they can realise their full potential.
  • Equal opportunities for education and employment will ensure that people with disabilities are lifted out of poverty.
  • Working together we can ensure that people with disabilities systematically and consistently benefit from our development.


South Africa is committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

  • Our constitution protects people with disabilities and ensures that every South African is treated equally.
  • South Africa also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol in 2007.
  • The UNCRPD is a legally binding document and ensures that all people with disability have equal rights and are treated with respect and dignity.
  • In 2015 Cabinet approved the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Government has made progress in addressing challenges faced by people with disabilities.

  • Since 1994 representation of people with disabilities has increased in various decision-making positions including in government.
  • To assist indigent people with disabilities, government introduced a disability grant to support those who are unlikely to find employment and have limited sources of income.
  • We implemented a care dependency grant for caregivers taking care of persons with profound disabilities.
  • All children with disabilities under the age of six have access to free healthcare, including rehabilitation and assistive devices.
  • Persons with disabilities have access to subsidised public transport in the main centres, while a universal design for the Bus Rapid Transit programmes ensures that busses are user friendly for commuters with disabilities.