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The JCB Literature Foundation announces an initiative for the visually impaired at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020

ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020

The JCB Literature Foundation announces an initiative for the Visually Impaired 

The JCB Literature Foundation announced at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 an initiative to make books shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature more accessible to the visually impaired.

In its second year of successfully running India’s richest literary prize, the JCB Prize for Literature, the JCB Literature Foundation, which was established as a CSR initiative by the Delhi-based construction equipment manufacturer JCB India, has made significant progress in fulfilling its ambition to create an enduring cultural legacy in the country.

This initiative is an extension of the Foundation’s core objective to increase the readership of Indian books within India by making literature more accessible and inclusive, particularly among vulnerable communities and groups across the country.

As part of this important initiative, the Foundation is working with Sugamaya Pustakalya, India’s first and largest collection of accessible books, to make books that were shortlisted  for the 2019 JCB Prize for Literature available as e-books for free download by the visually impaired community. For the first time ever, these shortlisted books will be accessible to those with a wide spectrum of visual impairment. Furthermore, the e-books will be made available to international libraries for visually impaired communities in other countries.

The Foundation has also partnered with Access for All to create a physical Braille copy of the 2019 JCB Prize for Literature winner, Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field. Copies of the book, which will come with a tactile cover thus providing a complete user experience for the visually impaired, will be donated to Braille libraries across the country.

Commenting on this initiative, JCB India MD and CEO, Subir Kumar Chowdhury said: “Literature needs to be accessible to all within India. Since its inception in 2018, the JCB Literature Foundation had as one of its core objectives an ambition to make shortlisted entries to the JCB Prize for Literature available to all. This initiative by the Foundation to make the 2019 shortlisted entries accessible to the visually impaired in India and beyond is a crucial step in the right direction, which we intend to build on as the JCB Prize for Literature enters its third year in 2020.”

The announcement was made during a special session entitled, “Literature for All: The JCB Prize Shortlist in Braille”. Moderated by Mita Kapur, writer and Literary Director of the JCB Prize for Literature, the session discussed accessibility of literature and literary fiction for the visually impaired. The panelists included Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO of HarperCollins India, Dipendra Manocha, founder of the Saksham Trust and member of the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union and Siddhant Shah, founder of Access for All.

The session was part of a special series of discussions at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2020, offering the audience a richer insight into the 2019 JCB Prize for Literature shortlisted books, the jury, and the broader vision of the JCB Literature Foundation. The Foundation, in conjunction with the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, also ran a special session on accessibility of literature for the visually impaired in Jaipur BookMark catering specifically for the publishing sector.

One of the key initiatives of the Foundation, the JCB Prize for Literature was set up in 2018 to enhance the prestige of literary achievement in India and create greater visibility for contemporary Indian writing. The prize encourages translations and aims to introduce new audiences to works of Indian literature written in languages other than their own.

Mita Kapur, Literary Director commented, “By converting the JCB Literature Prize shortlist into Braille, we take a small step towards making the best of Indian contemporary fiction, in English and in translation, accessible to all. The hope is to encourage the publishing industry to adopt inclusivity as a guiding principle and to facilitate print-disabled people to create, share and read excellent Indian writing.”

ABOUT THE PANELISTS

Ananth Padmanabhan is CEO of HarperCollins India. He began his career in 1992 as a bookseller at the Landmark Bookstores in Chennai before joining Penguin India as a sales representative for South India. In 2010, he was named Vice President and was later appointed Senior Vice President in 2014. He is also a published author and photographer.

 

Dipendra Manocha is working as the Developing countries coordinator and Lead of Training and Tech Support with the DAISY Consortium (Digital accessible information system). He is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union. He is Managing Trustee of the Saksham Trust. He worked as Asst. Project Manager for the DAISY For All Project. He is the elected president of the DAISY Forum of India. He worked as Director IT & Services at the National Association for the Blind, New Delhi, India from 1993 till July 2008. He also worked as consultant to the Delhi University for establishing the resource centre for persons with disability. After completion of post-graduation and research degree from Delhi University he left his Ph.D. in between to work for the mission of providing information and content in accessible format to persons with print disability. In the past decade he has managed or coordinated several technological development and implementation projects.

Mita Kapur is the founder and CEO of Siyahi, India’s leading literary consultancy. Her first book, The F-Word, is a food book, memoir and travelogue. She has edited Chillies and Porridge: Writing Food, an anthology of essays on food. As a freelance journalist, she writes regularly for different newspapers and magazines on social and development issues along with travel, food and lifestyle.

Mita has received many awards, including the Karamveer Puruskar (2009) for her work as a journalist in creating social awareness and for being the best literary consultant in the country, the Maharani Gayatri Devi Award for Woman of Excellence (2014), and the Femina Women Super Achiever Award (2018) at the World HRD Congress. She curated Masala Chowk, a food court for street food in Jaipur in 2018, and was a member of the executive council for Jawahar Kala Kendra from November 2016 – October 2018. She is also the producer for the Woman Up! Summit, and Soul Connect Experiences, and was producer for Mountain Echoes – The Bhutan festival of Art, Literature and Culture (2010-2019).

Siddhant Shah is a Heritage Architect and Access Consultant who specializes in bridging the gap between Cultural Heritage and Disability, through his initiative #AccessforALL.  Shah, a Stavros Niarchos Scholar, has finished his MA in Heritage Management from the University of Kent (Athens Campus, Greece) and his bachelors in Architecture (BSSA-NMIMS, India) along with a Post graduate Diploma in Indian Aesthetics. When Siddhant’s mother became partially sighted; he started looking at the world with a different perspective, specifically observing the absence of accessibility for all. His experience of being in Greece and observing the inclusive planning of museums also urged Shah to create “experience-based prototypes” using the museum collection in India in order to make the country’s culture-scape an INCLUSIVE one.

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