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Mumbai: Indian Forum awarded for helping visually-challenged in accessing books

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Mumbai: The Daisy Forum of India (DFI), a forum consisting of 174 organisations from across the country, was recently awarded the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) award at the London Book Fair for working for visually challenged people and those having a slow vision or are print disabled. Among their initiatives which were recognised is an online accessible library called Sugamya Pustakalaya, which contains a collection of more than 10,000 accessible books. The books also includes research material, texts and other books.

Jatin Jindal, a student who is currently preparing for his higher studies said a platform such as the online library helped him clear his bachelor’s degree. “It is very difficult to find books available in Braille for higher studies. I don not know how I would have completed my education had I not got access to the library. I get relevant material on the library even now as I prepare for University Grants Commission exams,” said Jindal.

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The online library developed by DFI, has 22 organisations uploading content, which is being worked on by civil societies, government organisations and industrial bodies. “The award is a huge motivation and recognition for us to work for empowering those, who are visually impaired. We just hope it will end the book drought for the print disabled people of all the diverse groups in India who are economically, geographically, socially and linguistically not viable,” said Dipendra Manocha, President, DFI. The Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), Fort, is also a part of the forum, which received the ABC international excellence award for accessible publishing.


Giving context to the initiative, Sam Taraporevala, Director of XRCVC and Vice-President of DFI, said an online library would help reduce duplication. “According to amended copyright act, a book can be recreated on non-profit basis for people with print disability. Thus, there are many such organisations across the country working to recreate content for them. Through Sugamya, a lot of money and manpower could be saved,” said Taraporevala.