VOLUNTEERS and beneficiaries of the Tape Aids for the Blind (Tab) branch in Pietermaritzburg — a library service for the blind and print handicapped — are angered by the lack of communication about the reasons for shutting down the Roberts Road branch recently.
They said the feeble reasons for the closure given by the Tab management, whose head office is in Durban, have only served to confuse and anger them.
Like other branches across the country, volunteers read books out loud while recording an audio version that is — just as a library service — lent to visually handicapped people, those suffering from strokes, and those who cannot page through books without aid.
The volunteers said they were told at a meeting convened by management in September that the recording of English and Afrikaans books will no longer be done at the Roberts Road branch — only recordings of isiZulu books.
The reason apparently given for abandoning English and Afrikaans recordings was that there was noise interference from outside the recording studio.
A volunteer said that many unhappy colleagues have declined to participate in recording books at home, as the head office had invited them to do.
Editing their own work would be virtually impossible, said the volunteers.
They said they no longer want to be associated with Tab management after the “extremely discourteous and disrespectful” way in which they have been treated over the past few months, after hints of the branch closure first surfaced.
Adequate explanations have not been forthcoming from Tab management, said volunteers.
They told The Witness that they have yet to see a promised press statement in the local media which explains reasons for the branch’s closure and which informs the Pietermaritzburg public of what has transpired at the local branch.
Creating a branch that focuses only on the Zulu language is unrealistic, said another volunteer, considering the dearth of available Zulu literature.
Instead, the recording of Zulu books could have been phased in, the volunteer said.
“A lot of us have worked [for Tab] for a long time and when it closed down nobody told us anything. Nobody ever came to us and told us what was happening.”
Beneficiaries also voiced their anger.
They told The Witness that they have tried to get answers about the closure, but no satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming.
The closure of the Pietermaritzburg branch and the loss goodwill within the community are “appalling and totally uncalled for”, added another volunteer.
The Witness sent questions to Tab CEO Pauline Hoffman in an e-mail on October 6. Tab confirmed it had received the questions, but no response had reached the newsroom at the time of going to print.