Source : Times of India
The 27th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair would be held from January 5 to 13. This year’s theme is ‘Books for Readers with Special Needs’, and Sharjah is the ‘guest of honour’ country.
Professor Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman of National Book Trust, the organiser, said, “We select a theme so that it enables an atmosphere of societal awareness in the country. Through our theme this year, we hope to create an environment of respect and equality that replaces the present notion of pitying people with special needs.”
By including both—books on the subject that are aimed at the general public and books specifically designed for readers with special needs— they “aim to break the idea that these books are only reserved for people with special needs”.
“People with special needs are an integral part of their families and the society at large. Our exhibition is thus also aimed at people associated with special needs community”, said Kumar Vikram, NBT editor. “It’s part of our conscious and concerted efforts to take up themes on subject areas that exist on the margins of intellectual discussion,” he said.
The theme focuses heavily on the concept of ‘inclusive learning’ through means that go beyond the conventional educational set-up. To achieve this, the fair has also tied up with Microsoft to include an exhibition booth on ‘digital accessibility tools’.
The fair would also exhibit over 500 Braille, audio, silent, tactile and integrated print-Braille books. “Integrated print-Braille books will be extremely helpful in bridging the gap since they can be read by everyone. The system of segregating special needs students is old.
The books would include fiction and non-fiction published by various publishers, including NBT, Navbharat Book House and Pan Macmillan.
The book fair would also hold a number of cultural events on the theme. An international disability film festival is expected to feature 45 films from 27 different countries, along with painting programme, poetry sessions and panel discussions with para Olympians and para athletes. Admission to the fair for the disabled is free, and railings and ramps have been constructed for ease of movement.
The fair would be launched by J L Kaul, secretary general of All India Confederation of the Blind, who would also release a calendar. The National Anthem would be performed by children with special needs in sign language. “We want them to become the identity of our nation”, said Professor Sharma.
The fair would have 1,350 stalls apart from shows by folk bands from the Sharjah Emirate. “We hope this step will lead to a stronger relation between our two countries,” said Khoula Al Mujaini, director of fairs and festivals at Sharjah Book Authority.