India publishes approximately 90,000 books each year in 24 different languages. We have over 16,000 publishers, and are one of the top nations for English book publishing in the world. Clearly we are a nation which values and fosters a culture of reading and passing on knowledge in different domains ranging from literature, to yoga, language, education, science, fiction and many others. We are also the world’s second most populous nation with an extremely large population with disabilities, including persons with print impairments. However, the total number of books accessible to the print impaired in India is only 19,000, a fraction of what is available yearly to the general public. How is it that despite our prowess in publishing and technology, persons with print impairments in India remain deprived of access to books and other forms of information which are key to an inclusive and fulfilling life?
Before going further into this question, let us understand the term “print disability”. Very broadly, print-impaired persons are those who cannot access printed material due to some form of disability, such as blindness or low vision, dyslexia, autism etc. For these persons to be able to read, the material needs to be converted into some other format such as Braille or accessible electronic formats which can be read using some assistive device like a screen reader or e-book reader, fitted in a laptop, mobile or stand alone device. For assistive technology to be able to read the content, it needs to conform to universal standards such as Unicode for Indic font or EPUB 3.0. Read more