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Visually impaired seek access to print materials

by Pranesh Prakash last modified Jan 16, 2013 06:20 AM
An article in the Deccan Herald (November 3, 2008, page 4) by L. Subramani on the CIS signature campaign.

Rahul Cherian is quoted in this article published in the Deccan Herald.


Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), an organisation researching on the impact of internet on society, has initiated a signature campaign to persuade the Indian government to support the Treaty for the Improved Access for the Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons.

The treaty, drafted earlier this year by the World Blind Union (WBU) and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), asks governments of various countries to change their copyright laws to allow free access to information of several print disabled persons.

The nation-wide campaign (in India) is being supported by organisations such as National Association of the Blind, Delhi and National Federation for the Blind (who is also an affiliate member of the WBU).

“Those who are visually challenged and otherwise print disabled are able to use computers independently with the help of screen readers and magnifiers (software technology), yet they are excluded from accessing copyrighted materials since such materials aren’t available in accessible formats,” said Nirmita Narasimhan, who oversees the campaign at CIS.

Treaty endorsement
Signatures are sought from individuals and organisations to urge the Government of India to endorse the treaty, which calls for copyright laws to be modified so that organisations of the blind and disabled can convert books available in the market into formats which can be accessed by persons with different visual and reading disabilities.

“The Indian Copyright Act (1957) is not taking into account recent technology advancements that has empowered the print disabled to access printed materials,” said Rahul Cherian, a Chennai-based copyrights lawyer involved in drafting the treaty.

“Collecting signatures from people would be an evidence of public opinion in India regarding the issue and would help us to persuade the Government to make our country a signatory to the treaty. This would mean that the government must make amending the national law a priority.”

Rahul said Indian publishers are largely willing to endorse changes to the law, since they view improved accessibility would bring more readers to the market (it is believed about 30 million persons are print disabled in the country). He also feels opposition from authors is unlikely as it doesn’t seriously threaten their incomes.


Interested can contact: Centre for Internet and Society, No D2, 3rd floor, Sheriff Chambers, 14, Cunningham Road, B’lore - 560 052. P: +91 80 4092 6283. M: 098458 68078. The current address of the Centre for Internet & Society is No. 194, Second 'C' Cross, Domlur, 2nd Stage, Bangalore - 560071, Ph: +91 80 4092 6283

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