Two Winners Announced for Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award

April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015

Cambridge University Press and Bangladesh’s Young Power in Social Action are the joint winners of the inaugural Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing.

The awards were presented during a ceremony on April 14 at the London Book Fair 2015 as part of its international excellence awards series.

Both Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) were recognized for providing outstanding leadership and achievements in the advancement of the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications to persons with print disabilities.

"We had difficulty finding fault in the shortlisted candidates,’’ said Jens Bammel, Secretary-General of the International Publishers’ Association and member of the selection jury, ‘‘all of the applicants presented us with innovative and important examples of their work in accessible publishing. However, CUP and YPSA displayed fantastic accomplishments in their respective fields and are worthy winners of this award."

Cambridge University Press (CUP) – Setting accessibility as the norm

Cambridge University Press is the co-winner of the award. Since 2013, its academic business has entirely redesigned its production workflows to make new titles as accessible as possible for readers with print disabilities. This has meant enabling the creation of proof ePub and Kindle books at the same time as the proof PDFs. By 2014, 72% of new books were available in accessible formats on or before the print publication date, with a further 12% made available less than two weeks afterwards.

If the formats that CUP have available for purchase do not meet the needs of the individual user, they have introduced on their website a form to enable the customer to request a PDF version within one week of application. In 2014, CUP handled requests for 386 titles (not including for USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand), and was able to supply accessible files to the individual user.

Accessibility is now factored into every aspect of Cambridge University Press’s content policy, part of a company-wide commitment to making content available in all formats.

Ms. Linda Nicol and Mr. Dan Dunlavey of Cambridge University Press, with Ms. Anne Leer, WIPO Deputy Director General (Photo: London Book Fair).

Young Power in Social Action – Transforming the lives of print disabled students in Bangladesh

The other co-winner came from slightly further afield. YPSA, based in Chittagong, Bangladesh, has been working since 1985 to bring about positive socio-economic change for the poor and vulnerable in the country. One of the many disadvantaged groups with whom they work is the visually impaired, a group numbering some four million in Bangladesh.

Two representatives from YPSA, Mr. Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive and Mr. Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Program Manager, travelled from Bangladesh to London to collect the Accessible Books Consortium award in person.

Speaking about the award, Mr. Bhattacharjee, who is himself blind since birth, said that "it is a great honor to receive this award on behalf of YPSA. To be recognized for our work is wonderful and to learn about other initiatives in the field of accessible publishing is inspiring. We hope that we can continue to serve the visually impaired of Bangladesh and look forward to a future free of barriers for all persons with disabilities."

YPSA has produced over 600 books in accessible formats. More recently, through funding provided by Australian Aid, YPSA has converted over 160 educational books into accessible formats that visually impaired students can use and enjoy. YPSA organized training for government publishers (who publish school textbooks), commercial publishers and other organizations serving people with print disabilities on the latest accessible publishing techniques so that their future productions can be ‘born accessible’.

Mr. Vashkar Bhattacharjee of Young Power in Social Action in Bangladesh, with Ms. Anne Leer, WIPO Deputy Director General (Photo: London Book Fair).

Background for Editors

About the Accessible Books Consortium

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a multi-stakeholder alliance, comprising the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); organizations that represent people with print disabilities; libraries for people with print disabilities and organizations representing publishers and authors. The ABC aims to increase the number of books worldwide in accessible formats – such as braille, audio and large print – and to make them available to people who are blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.

ABC carries out activities in three areas to fulfill its mandate, namely:

  • Capacity building, i.e., technical training in developing countries in the production and distribution of books in accessible formats;
  • inclusive publishing, i.e., promotion of accessible book production techniques so that published books are usable from the outset by both sighted people and those with print disabilities; and
  • the ABC International Book Exchange, which is a database of accessible titles located at WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva that can be exchanged across national borders.

Some 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired according to the World Health Organization's 2014 estimates. More than 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union (WBU) estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. The lack of accessible books is a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.

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