Centre for Internet & Society

An article by Arpit Basu, The Times of India (Kolkata) Nov 7th, 2009

Kolkata: For the 12 lakh-odd visually challenged and dyslexic persons in the state, access to good Indian literature in Braille or audio format is a challenge. Obtaining copyright to convert books into special format is the biggest hindrance, say activists working for disability rights.

“Even the National Library does not have any Braille or audio books. Authorities argue that the number of such special books is too less to create full-fledged sections,” said Shampa Sengupta of Sruti. When it comes to audio-version, the scenario is worse, says Lina Bardhan from Noble Mission that works with the mentally challenged.

City Braille publishers say legal formalities prove to be an obstacle. “We believe that as a humanitarian gesture, the Copyright Act of 1957 should be relaxed for books meant for the differently-abled,” said Amiyo Biswas of Blind Persons’ Association, one of the three Braille publishers in the city.

In April 2008, UK-based Sight Savers International urged the UN to sign a treaty so that persons with disabilities can access books and documents easily.

Now, Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) has carried out campaigns in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. On Saturday, Seminar will be held in Kolkata. “We want to organize a pan-India movement and amend the Copyright Act to establish the Right to Read,” said CIS programme manager Nirmita Narasimhan.

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