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Kerala's state capital library has a new Braille wing

July 5, 2019

The Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram recently opened a new wing with books in Braille as well as audio versions of the latest released. Experts say this is a good initiative and hope that more libraries across Kerala will be made accessible for disabled people.

Kerala lives up to its reputation as India's most literate state. The Kerala State Central Library in state capital Thiruvananthapuram has a new wing where books will be available in Braille along with audio versions. This is great news and disability rights activists hope this is just the start. They want all libraries across Kerala to have such wings for the benefit of visually impaired readers.

Reportedly, there are 253 Braille books in the newly opened wing. The Braille wing is constructed close to the main library so visually impaired people have easy access. There are plans to introduce more audio versions of the books as there's not enough space for books in Braille.

Kerala native Tony Kurian, who is visually impaired, is happy his home state is making such efforts to promote inclusion. A student at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, Tony hopes this is replicated across the state. Tony, who is from Kochi, says there's just one library in his hometown that is inclusive, the EMS Co-operative Library. He says its high time all libraries have such facilities for disabled people.

There is nothing to cheer about in Inclusion of merely a handful of libraries. We already have national online portals that provide accessible books for visually impaired people provided to us by the government of India. So we already have access. Now it is time for libraries to step up and start having books in braille. We need local bodies to collaborate as well. -Tony Kurian, Student

Organisations like the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped in Dehradun and the Kerala Blind Association are planning to supply books to the state library. In the next few months, they hope to have a thousand books in their collection.

Husna Ameen, a visually impaired computer trainer, has welcomed the initiative started by the government and hopes there will be more such programmes that take into account people who don't know Braille. "Visually impaired people who lost their sight later on in life and went to a regular school might not know Braille. Personally, I would prefer if we can access the computers smoothly using screen readers. That way, we can access more articles from many websites".

Clearly, the baby steps here have won the government much appreciation. The next challenge is scaling this up to be inclusive in every sense of the word.

ALSO READ: Some common misconceptions about Braille

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