Introducing accessible publishing
Accessible publishing is an approach to publishing and book design whereby books and other texts are made available in alternative formats designed to aid or replace the reading process. It is particularly relevant for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled. Formats have been developed to aid different people to read, including varieties of larger fonts, specialised fonts for certain kinds of reading disabilities, braille, e-books, and automated audiobooks, and DAISY digital talking books.
Presenting a braille version of A Dream, Aims and Ideals of Auroville
Today, information about Auroville is abundant. Many people try to make meaning out of Auroville – about its conception, to what direction should we grow towards, and, what are we doing here? But what was Mother’s original Dream and what was her Vision for Auroville back then? We now have more materials on hand to go back in time and retrace her steps. This book is a new compilation of texts and quotes that Mother had left for us. It is our choice to contemplate on this, to reflect what we have made out of Auroville, and for what are we here today.
Presenting a braille version of Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
Savitri is Sri Aurobindo's major poetic work. In Savitri, a legend from the Mahabharata becomes the symbol of the human soul’s spiritual destiny.
Commemorating Sri Aurobindo's 150th birth year
To commemorate Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth year, apart from building the capacity to produce braille books, we are creating special braille editions of these two works, “A Dream” and “Savitri.” Furthermore, we will print and gift a copy of each of these braille works to communities for the visually impaired in India.
Note of thanks
We conclude this letter with a note of thanks. This initiative has been possible because of the goodwill and quiet support from many quarters.
We are grateful to Julian, George, Bina and Matthew – all connected to AVI USA – for having contributed to this initiative. These monies have been used to finance the production and distribution of the special-edition commemorative volumes.
We are also grateful to Dr. Brijesh and Digital Media Initiatives of New Delhi who have been our quiet collaborators for the last two years. We also thank Padma Sri J. L. Kaul and the Braille Press of New Delhi, who have supported and guided this initiative.
Creating these braille publications in-house has been quite a challenge! We have had help from friends and guides, but the path has been uncertain, and we are not yet on sure ground – this publishing domain is very new for us. Nevertheless, the deed is done, we now know how to produce, and the fruits of these labours are sweet!
Apart from being technically demanding, the initiative has also required us to reach out to organizations that may need these materials. We are currently reaching out to several communities for the blind in and around Pondicherry. We are also connecting with organizations through whom we hope to channel these materials. which we are doing right now.
If you are connected to an organisation for the blind or the visually impaired in India or elsewhere and if you would them to have such materials please write to us.
Accessible works we may produce next…
Our long-time collaborator, Loretta Shartsis, also a contributor to this initiative, suggests we produce these works in accessible formats next:
1. The Mother
2. The Message of the Gita
3. The Problem of Rebirth
4. Bases of Yoga
5. Questions and Answers, 1929 – 1931
6. Questions and Answers, 1950 – 1951
7. Questions and Answers, 1953
8. Questions and Answers, 1954
9. Questions and Answers. 1955
10. Questions and Answers, 1956
11. Questions and Answers 1957 – 1958
These books, we feel, form a good-enough body of representative literature that includes compilations on particular subjects as well as first-hand personal stories about people's experiences in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
What do you think? Do you think more titles should be added to this list? Let us know! These initiatives are fuelled by participation and inputs from our readers.
Further expanding this initiative
Depending on how this initiative is received by various communities, the feedback we receive, and the demand – if there is any – for similar works, we will, perhaps, take on similarly creating one or two works every year on a pro-bono basis. We may also decide to extend our expertise and knowledge to other publishers who may also wish to produce accessible materials. We will also, upon request, accept work in this domain in a commercial fashion.
We are actively gathering the capacity to produce accessible works for the elderly – with old age comes a gradual decline in vision, hearing, manual dexterity, and cognitive abilities. Technology not only has the power to address their isolation and improve their quality of life but also bring strength and hope by making available the words of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. We hope to introduce this particular line of publishing in the next year. We also hope to similarly connect with communities for the elderly once we are ready.