The Sharjah-based non-profit Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment (KF) and Knowledge without Borders (KwB)’s cultural initiative – ‘1001 Titles’, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote the publication of accessible learning materials for print disabled children in the UAE and Arab region.
The MoU stipulates that 1001 Titles will support the production of 200 accessible Epub3 books. It will fall under KF’s ‘Ara’ (I See) initiative (which was launched to promote awareness about the issues of blind and visually impaired children) and further KF’s overarching vision to empower children with special needs by facilitating their access to knowledge.
The MoU was signed at the ongoing Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2019) yesterday by Amna Al Mazmi, Manager of Kalimat Foundation for Children Empowerment and Majd Al Shehhi, Manager of 1001 Titles. It was attended by Hugo Setzer, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA); Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Vice President of IPA; and Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director of Emirates Publishers Association (EPA).
Ten publishers from the UAE and the wider Arab region will be leading this publishing initiative. From the UAE, the publishers are Kalimat Group, Al Hudhud, Al Aalam Al Arabi, Sama Publishing, Al Hekayat, and Al Fulk. Joining them from Egypt is Al Balsam; from Saudi Arabia, Kadi, Al Ramadi; and from Jordan, Al Salwa.
The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) was at the gathering to deliver a workshop to the participating publishers.
The workshop aims to boost the production of e-books and other digital publications and broaden the ways publications can deliver accessible content to people who are blind or otherwise print disabled.
The workshop furthers ABC’s commitment to heighten the awareness of publishers, authors and other stakeholders about the importance of leveraging digital innovations to promote the production of e-books and make them accessible to all.
The workshop ended with every publisher signing the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing, formalising their commitment to joining forces with ABC to further ABC’s commitment through their businesses.
“The growing availability of e-books and other digital publications provides an unprecedented opportunity for people with print disabilities to become the readers of such publications and for them to enjoy an ever-broadening diversity of books. Publishers in the UAE and the region need to be empowered to ride the wave of digital innovations to benefit themselves and their audiences” said Amna Al Mazmi.
“Making learning resources readily available to blind and visually impaired children is a top priority for us; it is what ‘Ara’ was established for. We are excited about forming this partnership with 1001 Titles, and look forward to having their support in the production of the 200 Epub3 books that are a part of the MoU’s commitment,” she added.
In response, Majd Al Shehhi said: “We are proud to be part of this noble and important initiative. Our support to the publication of the 200 titles in accessible format for the print disabled is in line with our commitment to enriching the local and regional literary landscape by enabling publishers to produce high quality, original content. As organisations dedicated to literary creation that boost people’s access to knowledge and sources of learning, it is imperative that we apply comprehensive and more inclusive strategies to make learning equally accessible to all.”
Earlier this month, ‘Ara’ donated a total of 400 titles in audiobook, large-print and braille formats across four schools in Jordan.
Since its inception in April 2016, Kalimat Foundation has been engaged in an extensive programme of launching and implementing initiatives that facilitate the provision of public libraries and replenishing refugee camps with books. It seeks to give children in disadvantaged areas, access to sources of knowledge, in keeping with its dedication to ensuring every child’s right to read. KF believes in the positive impact of books on creating a future knowledge-based Arab generation that has a broad understanding of its own and of global cultures.