Sunday, October 26, 2008

Accessible books become available in India

From The Times of India:

MUMBAI, India -- Grabbing the latest bestseller off the shelf is on its way to becoming a reality for India's visually-disabled.

In a major step towards increasing access to the written world for those who are print-disabled,, the world's largest online library for the print-disabled, has entered the Indian market. Bookshare has partnered with three organisations across India-the Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) in Mumbai, Worth Trust in Tamil Nadu and Saksham Charitable Organisation in Delhi, to start Bookshare India.

Print-disabled persons, those who cannot access the print world, either because of vision impairment, inability to hold a book or learning disability, who wish to subscribe to Bookshare India can do so at an annual subscription fee of Rs 400, after being certified print-disabled from XRCVC. This will give them access to over 5,000 online books on diverse subjects.

The numbers will steadily increase as more and more publishers come forward and share their works with the organisation. Last year, TOI had written about how XRCVC had converted 20 textbooks into the DAISY format , one that makes navigating books easy for the visually challenged.

DAISY, which is short for Digital Accessible Information System, recently made inroads into the Indian market. The DAISY Forum of India (DFI), an umbrella organisation for all grassroots bodies working with the format, has also tied up wth Bookshare.

Both organisations will jointly approach publishers in India, seeking permission to make their titles available through the Bookshare-DFI network. Publishers worried about copyright violation can rest assured that there are effective safeguards in place to prevent copyright violations. Only a Bookshare user will be able to download a book online in a format that's accessible to the print-disabled.

It's only after XRCVC, or any of the other Indian partners for Bookshare, certifies a person print-disabled that they will have access to Bookshare India. Incidentally, XRCVC has been lobbying with the copyright office of the Government of India's Ministry of Human Resources in order to change the copyright laws.

"In at least 120 other countries , the copyright laws have been amended so that organisations working for the print-disabled as well as individuals themselves can convert books into a format that's accessible to them. But this is not the case in India,'' says Sam Taraporevala, director of XRCVC.