For individuals with visual disabilities, there is some good news. The Government of India, under the ‘Digital India’ initiative, has started an online library — Sugamya Pustakalaya — an online library with over 2 lakh books available in several languages, and in accessible formats for people with visual impairment and print disabilities.
Sugamya Pustakalaya is an online platform that makes content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats. It has been created by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in collaboration with member organisations of Daisy Forum of India and powered by TCS Access.
The 2-lakh book bank integrates libraries across India and the globe, including the largest international library, ‘Bookshare’.
How it works
When a person with a print disability wants to read a book, he can skip the labourious process of looking for volunteers to read them to him or scan and edit them.
A quick search on the Sugamya Pustakalaya can 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 organisations to download the book, or procure it offline through their member organisations. He can access all the books in the library on an online basis through the user-friendly portal.
He can read the publications on any device of his choice — mobile phone, tablet, computer, DAISY player or even in Braille using refreshable Braille displays. The user can also request for a Braille copy through member organisations that have Braille presses.
A school, college, or university library 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 users from other educational institutions can access the same and avoid duplication of creation of disabled-friendly books at multiple locations.
A publisher, government house or textbook production house can be a part of creating history by creating the largest accessible online library in a developing country. These entities can 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 create new partnerships with a large number of private and government publishing houses and publications. Textbook production houses and state textbook 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 Pustakalaya will provide protection to books and limit distribution to only those who cannot read normal print.