Akhbar Braille: Egypt’s first magazine for the blind

The magazine offers the visually challenged an opportunity to work in journalism.
Updated 25 August 2017
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Akhbar Braille: Egypt’s first magazine for the blind

CAIRO: In a long-awaited achievement, Egypt now has its first magazine in Arabic Braille, offering visually challenged people an opportunity to work in journalism. 
Akhbar Braille is published by Akhbar El-Youm, a semi-official daily newspaper in Arabic, and has columns on culture, art, sports, technology and politics. The Braille reading and writing system represents letters by raised dots.
The editor in chief of Akhbar Braille, Ahmad Al-Maraghy, told Arab News that the path to starting the magazine “wasn’t lined with flowers,” as it had to overcome many challenges to prove the idea was worth it. 
“Officials in charge of granting us a press license were surprised when they first received our first draft of the magazine, because it was an all-white paper print,” he said. 
The magazine’s team is made up of 20 editors who are all visually challenged. Nearly no reading material is available to the visually impaired in Egypt — some 3 million out of a population of 92 million. 
While the idea first occurred to Al-Maraghy in 2007 by meeting a visually impaired person by coincidence, he said he had several trials in Braille publications before this edition. 
“From a humanitarian perspective, I believe that being unable to see is the most difficult thing in the world,” he said.
Getting ads for the magazine was a challenge, he added, because people had never advertised in Braille before.
But it managed to attract some advertisers and receive sponsorship from a private bank. “I didn’t want the magazine to be seen as a charity or treat it that way,” he said.
“I’ve approached institutions who are aware of their social responsibility and are willing to develop their communities,” Al-Maraghy added.
“Our magazine is the first publication in Egypt and the Arab world to be published completely in Braille style.”
The 68-page publication currently prints 1,000-2,000 copies per month. Its free copies are distributed at public libraries, universities, schools or centers frequented by the visually impaired, in Cairo and other cities. 
Al-Maraghy wants to increase circulation throughout Egypt and start a daily publication. “It’s not a magazine about the blind, it’s for the blind, to serve their needs and interests,” he said.
“We hope our publication reaches audiences in the Gulf and the rest of the world.”


Facebook hires former UK deputy PM Nick Clegg as head of global affairs

Updated 19 October 2018
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Facebook hires former UK deputy PM Nick Clegg as head of global affairs

  • Facebook is enlisting the veteran of EU politics to help with increased regulatory scrutiny and challenges to its reputation
  • Clegg described the new job as ‘an exciting new adventure,’ after 20 years in British politics

LONDON: Facebook Inc. has hired former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to lead its global affairs and communications team, as the social network deals with a number of scandals related to privacy, fake news and election meddling.
The appointment makes Clegg, former leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats and deputy to David Cameron in the 2010-2015 coalition government, the most senior European politician ever in a leadership role in Silicon Valley.
Facebook said Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were closely involved in the hiring process, and started talking to Clegg over the summer.
“Our company is on a critical journey. The challenges we face are serious and clear and now more than ever we need new perspectives to help us though this time of change,” Sandberg said on a Facebook post congratulating Clegg.
Clegg, 51, succeeds Elliot Schrage and will report to Sandberg beginning on Monday. He will move to California with his family in the new year.
He was ousted as deputy prime minister after the Conservatives won a majority in 2015 in an election that saw his Liberal Democrats suffer a significant loss of support.
Clegg, whose appeal to younger voters was critically damaged when he broke a promise not to raise student tuition fees, lost his own seat in Britain’s parliament in an election last year.
He apologized in 2012 for breaking his promise on student charges, saying “I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.”
Clegg is joining a company that has apologized for its mistakes and has promised to do better on many occasions, for example for breaching its users’ trust.
“Throughout my public life I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issues and seeking to communicate them to others,” Clegg said in a Facebook post.
“I hope to use some of those skills in my new role“
Clegg, a strong advocate of Britain’s membership of the European Union, said it was a “wrench” to be leaving the public debate at a crucial time in Brexit, but added that key decisions would pass to parliament, of which he was no longer a member.
He will join his Liberal Democrat colleague Richard Allan at the social network.
Allan, a member of parliament between 1997 and 2005 who now sits in the upper house, is Facebook’s vice president of public policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Clegg has discussed online security and privacy, both when in office and more recently in newspaper articles.
“I’m not especially bedazzled by Facebook,” he said in an article in the London Evening Standard in 2016.
“While I have good friends who work at the company, I actually find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating.”
He also said he was not sure that companies such as Facebook really pay all the tax they could, although he added that was as much the fault of governments that still hadn’t got their tax act together.
Schrage, who led the social network’s response to its several scandals, stepped down from the role in June after a decade with the company. Schrage will stay as an adviser, Facebook said.
Facebook has faced a barrage of criticism from users and lawmakers after it said last year that Russian agents used its platform to spread disinformation before and after the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation Moscow denies.
In March, the company faced new scrutiny over how it protects personal information after acknowledging that the data of up to 87 million people ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.