The largest online library for the blind and people with reading disabilities



OPINION

‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’

By: M.Ahmad

Sugamya Pustakalaya (Library) is a collaborative effort of TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), Daisy Forum of India and NIEPVD (National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities), Government of India to end the book famine facing the people with reading disabilities. Users can access a collection of almost 07 lakh books, maintain their individual reading shelves online and also download books in their chosen formats. SugamyaPustakalaya is a facilitating platform for accessible content producers to work together in the production and provision of accessible books for people with reading disabilities.

SugamyaPustakalaya is the aggregator of accessible versions of books available in India. This library has been created by the DAISY Forum of India to provide access to books for people with reading disabilities. The Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) is a technical standard for digital audiobooks, periodicals, and computerized text.

DAISY is designed to be a complete audio substitute for printed material and is specifically designed for use by people with “reading disabilities” including blindness, low vision and dyslexia. Based on the MP3 and XML formats, the DAISY format has advanced features in addition to those of a traditional audiobook. Users can search, place bookmarks, navigate accurately line by line, and regulate speech rate without distortion. DAISY also provides aurally accessible tables, references, and additional information. As a result, DAISY enables visually impaired listeners to navigate something as complex as an encyclopedia or textbook, which would otherwise be impossible with conventional audio recordings. Libraries have been established in several states, but none in J&K.

The 46 book categories available in 40 languages, including Kashmiri, in this digital library include: Animals, Art and Architecture, Biographies and Memoirs, Business and Finance, Children’s Books, Computers and the Internet, Cooking, Food and Wine, Communication, Cooking , current affairs, international affairs, competitive exams, disability-related, theater, entertainment, earth sciences, education, food and wine, study of foreign languages, health, mind and body, history, home and garden, terror, humor, health, Literature & Fiction, Legal Law Issues & Ethics, Military, Mystery & Thriller, Math & Statistics, Medicine, Music, Mind & Body, Parenting & Family, Plays & Theater, Reference, Religion & Spirituality, Romance, Science, Sci-Fi and fantasy, Self-help, Sports, Teenagers, Textbooks, Travel

DAISY Forum of India is a consortium of ‘not-for-profit’ organizations in India that are involved in the production and distribution of books and reading materials in accessible formats for people who cannot read normal print due to visual, cognitive or physical. DAISY is the information system recently developed as an international standard of the Nest generation of digital talking books that replace conventional analogue cassettes and is designed for people who are blind or partially sighted and who have difficulty reading printed materials.

It is developed and promoted by the DAISY Consortium and the headquarters is located in Switzerland, which consists of full membership organizations in 12 countries. DAISY talking books allow users to jump directly to a specific paragraph, section and page of content. They can contain more than 50 hours on a single CD using the latest compression technology such as MP3. In addition, permanent use and maintenance is also possible.

There are currently three DAISY format standards in use, the oldest of which is the most common worldwide and is called DAISY 2.02. The National Library Service uses DAISY/NISO 2002, which, as the name suggests, was released in 2002. Work is underway to create the next version of the standard, DAISY 4, which will add support for multimedia and test management tools.

It is about to become the largest collection of books in accessible formats. A comprehensive resource for the reading needs of all those who, due to blindness, low vision or any other disability, cannot read standard print. Bookshare, the largest international online library for people with reading disabilities, is also integrated into SugamyaPustakalaya. All titles available in the Bookshare library for India can be searched and downloaded through SugamyaPustakalaya. Please note that people without disabilities do not have the right to use books downloaded from SugamyaPustakalaya. Sharing or circulating content downloaded from SugamyaPustakalaya is prohibited and may result in legal penalties. The library has come a long way in terms of expanding its readership and content.

Creating a library like SugamyaPustakalaya in a country like India is not an easy task. India is the second largest country in terms of world population, has 22 official languages ​​which vary from state to state and where most people with disabilities are below the poverty line and most DPOs work with resources very limited. The success of SP so far among the reading disabled community acts as an impetus to expand and accelerate the growth and reach of this library to include all reading disabled people both within and outside of India. A critical success factor in its development and promotion is the wonderful collaboration that has emerged from this project between government, industry and DPOs, and has extended even further to libraries and universities. For effective and sustainable change to occur, beyond the project, collective thinking and commitment must be generated to address barriers to access and create solutions that are scalable, cost-effective and sustainable. Therefore, such synergy is significant. The DFI team is constantly expanding in all areas, books, members and partners. The dedication and drive created by DFI and its partners is an excellent example for the world to see and emulate. Nearly 07 lakh books are available for download contributed by DFI member organizations and Bookshare Total Books in all Daisy India Libraries

India’s accessible online library ‘SugamyaPustakalaya’ (SP) recently celebrated its 6th birthday on 24th August 2022. The library, which was a project driven by Daisy Forum of India in partnership with Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and powered by TCS Access Infinity, it has covered a lot of ground in terms of readership and content expansion. This blog looks at SP’s journey over the past three years and her achievements today. As of today, almost 80 libraries across India are registered with SP with over 31,000 downloads and 27,820 registered library members. In addition to accessing more than 15,700 books from registered libraries, SugamyaPustakalaya also offers any of the 29,000 books on ABC Global Books Service to its members, as well as integrates search for more than 400,000 Bookshare titles.

Stakeholders and beneficiaries of SugamyaPustakalaya include: People with reading disabilities: This library can be accessed through any of the DAISY Forum of India member organizations. For the first time in India, these people will be able to log on to the website, search for accessible format versions of books created anywhere in the country, and download them to start reading. Organizations that produce accessible content: These organizations will be able to upload their book collection to SugamyaPustakalaya and thus reach people with reading disabilities across the country. They will also gain a robust mechanism for storing their books and maintaining membership and book distribution data. Organizations serving people with reading disabilities, Universities, Schools and Libraries: These organizations can become members of the DAISY Forum of India to be able to download SugamyaPustakalaya books for their local members/students. They will be able to provide access to a huge amount of accessible material like never before. Publishers: Senior Publishers can become members of the DAISY Forum of India and can directly contribute accessible versions of their publications.

Books on Sugamya Pustakalaya are free. You don’t need to pay money to download any books. However, The DAISY Forum of India and its member organizations may charge a fee for membership in the Library. People with reading disabilities should follow the steps below to create an account on SugamyaPustakalaya with book download privileges. Open https://library.daisyindia.org/NALP/signupLink.action Click Sign Up as End User Provide the required information. Please make sure all the information you submit here is correct and complete. Choose the library to which you would like to submit your membership application. Your membership application will be sent to the DFI member organization you selected. You will be notified by email/SMS when the DFI member library approves your membership application. You will then be able to log in, search and download books.

Library contact details are: SugamyaPustakalaya C/O The DAISY Forum of India, 486 Double Storey, New Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi – 110 060, India, Phone: 1800 300 20469 (Toll Free) or 011-42411015, Mail electronic: [email protected]

(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at [email protected])


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