Over 2 lakhs books available in several languages in accessible formats for people with visual impairment and print disabilities
"Sugamya Pustakalaya: A step towards an Accessible Digital India” (An online library for persons with visual disabilities) was launched by Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology at a function organized by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment presided over the function. Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Human Resource Development and Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar and Shri Ramdas Athawale were the Guests of Honour. Before the inaugural function, there was a panel discussion on the subject of “Accessible Digital India”.
Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad said this is an era of Information and Technology and both are powers. Through Digital India we are seeking to bridge the Digital Divide between have’s and have not’s. We have linked Divyangjans with the common service centres in our country. National Informatics Centre (NIC) is in the process of making 100 Government websites Divyang friendly of which 16 have already been made Divyang friendly. He asked NGOs and citizens to use “My Gov” to provide valuable inputs on Government of India schemes.
Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot said his Ministry is dedicated to the Sugamaya Bharat campaign and buildings in several Indian cities will be made accessible. Over 6 lakh Divyangjans have been provided equipment and 4000 camps have been organized nationwide to facilitate and upgrade the lives of Digvaygjans and downtrodden sections of society. Permission has been given to establish 18 new Braille Printing Presses. The Divyang College in Trivandrum will also be converted into Divyang University. A new world record was created when 1500 Divyangans were provided equipment in Varanasi.
Shri Prakash Javadekar in his address said HRD Ministry will provide just assistance to facilitate the Divyangjans in our country. He said his first convocation address will be at the Divyang University at Chitrakoot.
Shri Kishan Pal Gurjar said that Divyangjans don’t need the sympathy of the people but deserve their love, affection and support. Through this launch of “Sugamya Pustakalaya” they will be able to get all valuable information. He also sought cooperation from publishers in this endeavour.
Shri Ramdas Athawale said that it is the prime responsibility of his Ministry is to look after the interest and wellbeing of the Divyagjans and backwards sections of our society. He hoped that this initiative will achieve its objectives.
Shri Dipendra Manocha, Managing Trustee of Saksham Trust gave a brief introduction of the E-library “Sugamya Pustakalaya” on the occasion.
“Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats. It has been created by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with member organizations of Daisy Forum of India and powered by TCS Access. Books are available in Accessible formats for people with visual impairment and other print disabilities. Over 2 lakhs books in diverse languages. Integrating libraries across India and the Globe, including the largest international library, ‘Bookshare’.
In case of End User i.e. person with Print Disability: The next time a person with Print Disability needs to read a book, he can skip the laborious process of looking for volunteers to read them to him or scan and edit them. A quick search on the Sugamya Pustakalaya may land him with the book of his choice at the click of a button. He will need to be a registered print-disabled member with one of the member DFI organizations to download the book or procure it offline through their member organization. He can access all the books in the library at a click of a button. He can read the publications on any device of his choice- mobile phones, tablets, computers, DAISY players or even in braille using refreshable braille displays. He could also request for a braille copy through member organizations that have Braille presses.
In case of a School/College/Library: Universities, School Library, Public Libraries or any such institution can become a member of DFI or subscribe to the online library to offer the entire collection of the Sugamya Pustakalaya to their members or students with print disabilities. Educational institutions can also contribute accessible format books produced for their students so that students from other educational institutions can access the same and avoid duplications of creation at multiple locations.
In case of a Publisher/Government House/Textbook Production House: They can be part of creating history by creating the largest accessible online library in a developing country. Increase their reader base to include persons with print disabilities by sharing accessible formats of their publications to be put up on Sugamya Pustakalaya. The library already hosts publications such as Reader’s Digest and India Today and seeks to have new partnerships with a large number of private and government publishing house and publications. Textbooks production houses, state text book boards (SCERTs/NCERT) can meet their obligations under the Right to Education Act (2009) by providing their content to students with print disabilities through this platform. Sugamya Pustakalya will provide protection to books and limit distribution to only those who cannot read normal print.
In case of an NGO: They can begin a library service for persons with print disabilities by joining as a members and offer the complete content provided by the Sugamya Pustakalaya to their members.
In case of a Corporate: Their employees can volunteer for accessible content creation and help reach out to millions of users with print disabilities. The IT industry can contribute with technology development to fill gaps in authoring and reading of digital content in all Indian languages.