Activity Reports – 2023

العربية

From Advancing Literacy to Accessible Formats:
Bridging Together Children and Books

When the father of a visually impaired boy recently shared his story with me about the positive transformation in his son’s life thanks to Kalimat Foundation’s (KF) donations of braille books to his school in Sharjah, it strengthened my belief in the critical role literacy plays in our children’s lives and reinforced my commitment to make KF a force for good. Stories like these fill my heart with joy and strengthen my resolve to build on our vision.

Since its inception seven years ago, our goal has been to give disadvantaged, displaced, and visually disabled Arab children access to books and knowledge regionally and globally. Our goal is rooted in the firm belief that reading and literacy are every child’s right; no matter their circumstances, children should not be deprived of this opportunity.

Guided by this spirit, we have led many initiatives through books and stories to create a new world of possibilities in the life of every child we reach. However, in 2022, we achieved an unprecedented milestone…

Kalimat Foundation
mandate

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Empowering Children

Through the provision of engaging reading material to vulnerable and visually disabled children from Arabic communities, we aim to ease social integration and also anchor cultural roots, for the purpose of building better prospects in learning and better opportunities in adulthood.

Honouring Arab Culture

We encourage and facilitate, the production and distribution of books in Arabic, in order to protect and sustain culture, heritage and a secure sense of being.

Bridging Communities

Kalimat Foundation is committed to connecting civil society, by suppling literary titles that encourage understanding and dialogue between communities. In similar respect, stories present contemporary social analogies for youngsters, with the aim of supporting integration.

Raising Awareness

We are dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of advancing literacy to disadvantaged youth. We do this through our work in distribution, events hosted to educate the public on literacy for the vulnerable and visually disabled, workshops on new technologies and workflows in accessible publishing, and agreements with publishers and businesses to boost production in formats such as braille, large print, audio and accessible EPUB3.

Building Networks

Kalimat Foundation is dedicated to building a global community with business, institutions, government and non-government bodies, to broaden effectiveness in accessible publishing, from production to distribution.

Fulfilling Needs

As a policy advisor, we assess populations represented by the underserved in our scope of work, their demographics, capabilities, and the teaching, literary and technological resources available or missing. The objective here being to understand needs and gaps to address.

A celebration of literacy for the disadvantaged and visually disabled:
the first seven years in summary

‘As for the public response to initiatives, following the September 2017 Pledge a Library launch, the foundation received 100 promises for donations in its first ten days – testament to the country’s respect for reading, literature and culture.’


Kalimat Foundation began operations in 2016, to protect the rights of vulnerable and visually disabled children, and their ability to access books. The period was marked by obdurate civil conflict in the Middle East, including Syria, from where large populations fled to new countries and new cultural contexts. The same decade was also signified by growing requests from host nations for Arabic literature. Hand in hand with this call to action, to serve children in new territories and communities, came the step to support the literacy of visually impaired and blind youth, again underserved in their access to suitable reading material.


The paths taken by Pledge a Library and Ara; the foundation’s two main distribution programmes have often faced challenge. Regarding Pledge a Library, administering logistics was sometimes hard, as was receiving approvals where security concerns arose, particularly in public libraries and refugee camps. With Ara, decisions and book deliveries were hampered by obstacles ranging from a lack of guidelines supporting the production of accessible books, to a dearth in population demographics and scant information on organisations that serve those children.


Kalimat Foundation’s credibility has, nonetheless, been widely recognised, thanks to the standing of Kalimat Group in publishing and in the capacity for tailoring books based upon recipient demands. With effort, diligence and assistance from the United Arab Emirates’ foreign missions, intergovernmental and NGO partners; books have since made their way, or been committed to, migrant camps, migrant and community centres, libraries, schools and hospitals around the world. Here is a brief summary on progress over the past seven years.

The global view

Working to sustain the rights of underserved children in reading, upholding Arabic culture, supporting social integration, equity and objectivity, has required vigour and diligence. The foundation’s advances since 2016 are depicted in this section. 31 countries and 46,300 books are delivered globally. 30,000 of these represent accessible formats for the visually disabled. Jordan, with its significant refugee populations arising from civil war in Syria, is amongst our largest receiving territories.

Worldwide book distribution

Cumulative book distribution across programmes

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Top 10 countries, % book distribution across programmes

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Ara

Pledge a Library

Multiple programmes

Activities by country in chronological order

Kalimat Foundation set out on its first deliveries in April 2017, with the printing of 250 books for visually disabled children in the United Arab Emirates.
There have since been 34 interventions globally. Activity by June 2021, has resulted in the provision of more than 22,000 books in 23 territories.
With respect to the children reached statistic, numbers have been most clearly gauged through Pledge a Library, 88,749 in total.
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