Malaysia’s first oral health Braille book enters record book

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Malaysia’s first oral health Braille book enters record book

The first dental Braille book in Malaysia has received considerable recognition and is hoped to help individuals with blindness to better manage their oral health. (Image: vectorfusionart/Shutterstock)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Addressing the oral health needs of the blind community, Malaysia published its first dental Braille book, Colour Your World With Smile, in 2022. Now, the book has gained entry into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) as the first Braille dental book in the country for those with vision loss and serves as a means to support persons with blindness in prioritising their oral health.

The book was published in partnership with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) and is written in English and Bahasa Malaysia. It is designed for primary school students and covers topics such as tooth anatomy, various stages of tooth development, the function of each tooth, common dental issues and oral hygiene practices in its 80 pages. “We are honoured that the book has been recognised by MBR. The achievement has brought pride not only to the authors but to the entire blind community that will benefit from this book,” co-author Dr Zahra Naimie, a senior lecturer at the University of Malaya Dental Education Enhancement and Development Unit, commented in a press release.

The authors of the first oral health Braille book published in Malaysia (from left): Drs Norasmatul Akma Ahmad, Zahra Naimie and Selva Malar Munusamy. (Image: Nor Nazrin Nordin)

“The resource serves as a catalyst in encouraging the blind community to care for their oral hygiene proactively. The country’s inaugural Braille dental book represents a significant stride towards inclusivity and accessibility,” commented MAB Deputy President Datin Fauziah Mohd Ramly. “It not only reflects a commitment to equipping visually impaired individuals with the tools they need for informed decision-making, but also marks a turning point in healthcare education for the blind community,” she stated.

During the certificate presentation ceremony, the authors of the book also launched Colour Your World With Smile for secondary school students. This second book provides information about topics such as tooth anatomy, dental plaque, periodontal disease and tooth loss. According to the press release, the third book—for adults—is to be released next month.

As the authors noted, the inspiration for the book came from a visit to the MAB together with undergraduate students as part of an oral health awareness programme. “From our visit to MAB, we learned that the blind face challenges accessing information that’s primarily presented visually. A Braille dental book offers them an avenue to access crucial health-related information independently. It allows them to read and comprehend the content at their own pace and convenience, promoting self-reliance in learning, Dr Naimie explained.

Vision loss and oral health

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.2 billion people worldwide have loss of near or distance vision, which has serious consequences across their life course. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, around 7% of people who are registered as blind or partially sighted use Braille. Although often inaccessible, reading may help people with blindness to better identify dental problems, such as carious lesions and gingival bleeding. A 2019 study also demonstrated that a combined teaching approach consisting of verbal and tactile stimuli and using Braille is an effective way to teach dental hygiene to children with vision loss.

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