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

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The JCB Literature Foundation has today 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. 

Dipendra Manocha, founder of the Saksham Trust and member of the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union; Siddhant Shah, founder of Access for All; Mita Kapur, Literary Director and Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO of Harper Collins India at the during a special session entitled, “Literature for All: The JCB Prize Shortlist in Braille” at JLF

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.”

Siddhant Shah, founder of Access for All and Mita Kapur, Literary Director with the Braille book.

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.”

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