Largest online library for the blind and print disabled

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 faced by people with print disabilities. Users can access a collection of nearly 07 lakh books, maintain their individual reading shelves online and also download books in chosen formats. Sugamya Pustakalaya is a facilitating platform for producers of accessible content to work jointly in producing and providing accessible books to people with print disabilities.

The Sugamya Pustakalaya is the aggregator of accessible versions of books available in India. This library has been created by DAISY Forum of India to provide access to books to persons with print disabilities. 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 print material and is specifically designed for use by people with “print disabilities”, including blindness, impaired vision, and dyslexia. Based on the MP3 and XML formats, the DAISY format has advanced features in addition to those of a traditional audio book. Users can search, place bookmarks, precisely navigate line by line, and regulate the speaking speed without distortion. DAISY also provides aurally accessible tables, references, and additional information. As a result, DAISY allows visually impaired listeners to navigate something as complex as an encyclopedia or textbook, otherwise impossible using conventional audio recordings. Libraries have been established in various states but none in J&K.

The 46 categories of books available in 40 languages ​​including Kashmiri, on this digital library include: Animals, Art and Architecture, Biographies and Memoirs, Business and Finance, Children’s Books, Computers and Internet, Cooking, Food and Wine, Communication, Cooking, Current Affairs, Competitive Examinations, Disability-Related, Drama, Entertainment, Earth Sciences, Education, Food and Wine, Foreign Language Study, Health, Mind and Body, History, Home and Garden, Horror, Humor, Health, Literature and Fiction, Law Legal Issues and Ethics, Military, Mystery and Thrillers, Mathematics and Statistics, Medicine, Music, Mind and Body, Parenting and Family, Plays and Theater, Reference, Religion and Spirituality, Romance, Science, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Self-Help, Sports , Teens, Textbooks, and Travel.

DAISY Forum of India is a consortium of Not for Profit organizations from India who are involved in production and distribution of books and reading material in accessible formats for persons who cannot read normal print due to visual, cognitive or physical disabilities. DAISY is the information system recently developed as an international standard of the nest generation of Digital Talking books replacing conventional analogue cassettes and is designated for those who are blind or visually impaired and who have difficulties in reading printed materials. It is developed and promoted by DAISY Consortium and the headquarters is located in Switzerland, consisting of full membership organizations in 12 countries. DAISY talking books enable users to jump directly to the specific paragraph, section and page from the contents. They can contain more than 50 hours in only one CD using the latest compression technology like MP3. Moreover, permanent use and maintenance is also possible. Three DAISY format standards are in use today, the oldest of which is the most common worldwide and is referred to as DAISY 2.02.

The National Library Service uses DAISY / NISO 2002, which, as the name implies, was released in 2002. Work is ongoing to create the next version of the standard, DAISY 4, which will add support for multimedia and test administration tools. It is poised to become the largest collection of books in accessible formats. A one-stop resource for the reading requirements of all those persons who due to blindness, weak eyesight or any other disability cannot read the standard print. Bookshare, the largest International online library for persons with print disabilities is also integrated into Sugamya Pustakalaya. All the titles available in Bookshare library for India can be searched and downloaded through the Sugamya Pustakalaya. Note that persons without disabilities are not entitled to use the books downloaded from Sugamya Pustakalaya. Sharing or circulation of content downloaded from Sugamya Pustakalaya is prohibited and may lead to legal penalties. The library has covered lots of ground in terms of expanding its readership and content.

Creating a library like Sugamya Pustakalaya in a country like India is no easy task. India is the second largest in terms of global population, has 22 official languages ​​varying from state to state and where a majority of persons with disabilities are below the poverty line and most DPOs work with very limited resources. The success of SP so far amongst the community of persons with print disabilities acts as a booster to expand and accelerate the growth and reach of this library to include all persons with print disabilities, both within and outside India. A critical success factor in its development and promotion is the wonderful collaboration which has blossomed out of this project between the government, industry and DPOs, and further extended to libraries and universities. For effective and sustainable change to occur, beyond the project, there should be a kindling of collective thought and commitment to the addressing of access barriers and creating solutions that are scalable, profitable and sustainable. Hence, such synergy is significant. The DFI team is constantly expanding in all areas, books, members and partners. The dedication and momentum 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 in all libraries in Daisy Forum of India.

India’s accessible online library ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’ (SP) recently celebrated its sixth birthday on August 24, 2022. The library, which was a project driven by the Daisy Forum of India in partnership with the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment and powered by TCS Access Infinity, has covered lots of ground in terms of expanding its readership and content. This blog looks at the journey of SP over the past three years and its achievements today. As of today, nearly 80 libraries from all over India are registered on SP with more than 31,000 downloads and 27,820 members registered with the library. In addition to access to more than 15,700 books from registered libraries, Sugamya Pustakalaya also offers any of the 29,000 books from ABC Global Books Service to its members as well as integrates search from more than 4,00,000 titles from Bookshare.

The stakeholders and beneficiaries of Sugamya Pustakalaya include: Persons with print disabilities: They can get access to this library through any of the DAISY Forum of India member organizations. For the first time in India, these individuals will be able to log into the website, search for accessible format versions of books created anywhere in the country and download it to start reading. Organizations producing accessible content: These organizations will be able to upload their book collection to the Sugamya Pustakalaya and thereby reach out to print disabled across the country. They will also get a robust mechanism for storing their books and maintaining membership and book distribution data. Organizations serving the print impaired, Universities, schools and libraries: These organizations can take up DAISY Forum of India membership to be able to download books from the Sugamya Pustakalaya for their local members/students. They will be able to provide access to an enormous amount of accessible material like never before. Publishers: Mainstream publishers can take up membership of DAISY Forum of India and can directly contribute accessible versions of their publications.

The books on Sugamya Pustakalaya are free of cost. No money needs to be paid to download any book. However, The DAISY Forum of India and its member organizations may charge a fee for membership of the Library. Individuals with print disabilities need to take the following steps to create an account on Sugamya Pustakalaya with book download privileges. Open https://library.daisyindia.org/NALP/signupLink.action Click Register as end user. Provide the required information. Make sure all the information you submit here is correct and complete. Choose the library to which you want to send your membership application. Your membership request will be sent to the DFI member organization you selected. You will be notified by email/SMS when your membership request is approved by the DFI member library. You will then be able to log in, search and download books. The contact details of the library is: Sugamya Pustakalaya 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, Email : [email protected]

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

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