Have you ever heard of Hun-maeng-jeong-eum? As soon as you read that word, most of you would be confused with the famous book, Hun-min-jeong-eum. Written by Park Doo-sung, Hun-maeng-jeong-eum is the book for the blind. Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, it contains the system of Korean dot characters which was created by Park.
Although it was distributed to the public long time ago, there is little attention to braille and the books written in it. For example, in 2015 one public library located in Jeju-do had 241,379 volumes of the total books but only had 172 volumes of braille book. In addition, in 2013 over half of the 33 public libraries in Chungcheongbuk-do did not have the books for the blind in their library.
In the midst of indifference to the braille, however, there are people trying to universalize the braille system; Braille translators-proofreaders who translate and proofread the braille for the publication of braille books. To introduce them to you in a more detailed and fresh way, INDIGO interviewed with the two braille translators-proofreaders who have been working at the Rainbow Library, located in Cheongju.
Q. Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
MANAGER LEE & YEON: My name is Lee Jeong-eun, and her name is Yeon Bo-hye. We are managers in the Department of General Affairs & Planning in the Rainbow Library. We have been working for 8 years in this library. We are both managers but our duties differ from each other. I am in charge of library and Manager Yeon is in charge of social welfare.
Q. Can you introduce the Rainbow Library, too?
LEE: Rainbow Library is a library for the blind, which is the only independent library for the blind in Chungcheongbuk-do. Therefore, this library has been offering services to the blind in all over Chungcheongbuk-do. However, that is not all. Our library users are not confined to the blind. Since we changed our library name from “Chungbuk Library for the Blind” into the Rainbow Library in 2008, we have provided services for all the people in Chungcheong-do, and that is our basic policy.
Q. What kind of work do you do in this library?
YEON: Mostly, we publish paper books written in braille and recording books for lending them to the blind. For publishing them, we buy general books written in Korean and then we translate the contents, which are written in Korean into Korean braille and to publish recording books, we also record the contents of the books and publish throughout mp3 files or tape.
Q. “Braille translator-proofreader” is an official license in Korea but from what I can gather, in workplaces, a person who acquired the license, works as either translator or proofreader. What kinds of work in each field are done?
LEE: Braille translators translate the texts in the general books into braille. In contrast, when the translation is finished, braille proofreaders proofread them from the blind’s angle. In fact, the classification is not easily done; there is a shortage of workers that have the license. Except the large-scale libraries for the blind, such as some libraries in Seoul, most workers in the libraries who acquired the license are all involved in both kinds of work.
Q. Then, what do you think about the reasons for the shortage of the workers?
YEON: I think, above all things, it stems from a lack of awareness. As you know, a lot of people do not know this occupation and they would not have experienced about braille. Moreover, the license is not easy to acquire. Not only is the test itself complicated but also can the continuous changes of some parts in Korean orthography give the difficulty to the people who are preparing for the test.
Q. Despite the tough situations, why did you choose this job?
LEE: Frankly speaking, it seems that we were attracted to the “scarcity” of the job. We think that it is more valuable to do something that many people do not do than do something that many people already have been doing.
Q. What is the most difficult thing while you work as braille translator-proofreader?
YEON: Well, the first thing is that we have lots of other businesses as well as braille translation and proofreading. The translation and proofreading of braille require a great deal of care but, as mentioned before, we have a shortage of work.
Q. As you may know, most of the readers who will read this article are pre-service teachers. After they are in the teaching field, they shall meet some visual impaired students. Could you tell us what kinds of virtues or attitudes should we have when we teach them?
LEE: I think that sense of duty as a teacher, to put it simply, thoughtful attitudes to the students would be the most required virtue. One of my acquaintances is a teacher in the special-education school. One day, she said to me that “Educating the visual impaired students is not easy; If a teacher does not have a sense of duty, he or she will have a difficult time.” Likewise, thoughtful attitudes will necessary. As they depend on their hearing and touching when they communicate with others, the thoughtful behavior, such as telling warm words, holding their hands, calling their name frequently, will be helpful ways to make both of the students and you comfortable.
There are many people who are trying to help the social minorities, while we have not recognized their existences. As they mentioned above, one of the most difficulties they have is the lack of awareness. Due to the indifference, there is a shortage of workers, which can lead to providing insufficient services with the blind. To keep up their good work, social attention to them seems necessary.
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