Date Posted 12 Nov 2023
Kalimat Foundation (KF) concluded its participation in the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2023), after 12 days of diverse engaging activities, including a braille activation enabling attendees to craft heartfelt letters for blind and visually impaired children and inclusive storytelling sessions, all as part of KF’s ‘Ara’ initiative. The foundation was also recognised for its endeavours through the initiative, receiving a ‘Special Commendation Award’ from the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a subsidiary of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
ABC lauded the Ara initiative
The special award, received during the Publishers Conference, recognised KF’s achievements and efforts in supporting blind and visually impaired children by facilitating the production of accessible Arabic content, helping them learn as well as integrate better into society.
Speaking about their involvement at SIBF 2023, Amna Al Mazmi, Director of Kalimat Foundation, emphasised the foundation's dedication to addressing the learning needs of visually impaired children. “Access to knowledge is a fundamental right for everyone, irrespective of the challenges they may encounter. There are various approaches to integrate individuals with special needs into their communities, and we have a commitment to do so with blind and visually impaired children to empower them through reading.”
Commenting on the ABC’s Special Commendation Award, Al Mazmi said, “This acknowledgment resonates with the increasing global recognition of Sharjah’s vision which underscores the important role that knowledge has in empowering both societies and individuals. This vision is carried out through the emirate’s various cultural institutions and initiatives and KF is proud to continue contributing towards it through our programs and initiatives.”
During the book fair, KF organised, in collaboration with Sharjah Public Libraries, an inclusive storytelling session for the children’s picture book “Sunflower,” led by author and journalist Samia Ayish. The book tells the story of a blind child, aiming to encourage children to pursue their dreams, reinforcing values of cooperation and friendship. The workshop saw the participation of 12 children aged between 7 and 12 years old, promoting the integration of blind and visually impaired children with their sighted peers.
Letters of Vision
KF provided an opportunity for visitors to write letters using Braille through an activity titled “Letters of Vision” to champion the ‘Ara’ initiative. Participants wrote messages of support, hope, and encouragement for the blind and visually impaired and was led by Ranim Ahmed, a Braille specialist and psychology graduate, who shared her expertise with visitors in the foundation's pavilion.
Sharjah Youth Council and KF: An invitation to read
Additionally, the foundation joined forces with the Sharjah Youth Council in a session titled “Reading and its Impact on Society.” During this session, Amna Al-Mazmi delved into the significance of reading and its cultural, social, and educational effects. She also addressed the challenges faced by readers in society and provided insights on overcoming them.
Pledge a Library Moving Cart
A moving cart showcasing the Pledge a Library initiative’s products line, which was designed in collaboration with Emirati artist Mohamed Al Mansoori, roamed between the halls of the fair. Merchandise sold will help support the initiative, which seeks to provide libraries, each containing 100 Arabic language books, to refugee and forcibly displaced children worldwide.
“Pledge A Library” initiative’s merchandise can be also found on the foundation’s website https://kalimatfoundation.ae/support-us/merchandise/, or through the foundation’s booth at City Centre Al Zahia. In addition to other locations across the UAE including, House of Wisdom, Magrudy’s, Kulture House, and Barakah Studio.