ABC International Excellence Awards Given to Kogan Page and Mr. Ashoka Bandula Weerawardhana
November 29, 2022
Publishing house Kogan Page of the United Kingdom and Mr. Ashoka Bandula Weerawardhana of Sri Lanka are the winners of the 2022 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing. Kogan Page was recognized in the publisher category and Mr. Bandula was recognized in the initiative category for their respective achievements in the field of accessibility to benefit people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled. Special Commendations were also awarded by the jury to Constantine Editores of Mexico in the publisher category and the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind of Brazil in the initiative category.
The winners of this prestigious award, presented by the WIPO-led Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), were announced via video on November 29, 2022 by WIPO Deputy Director General Sylvie Forbin at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico during an on-site accessibility seminar entitled “Accessible Publishing for People with Print Disabilities: A Latin American Perspective”.
In the publisher category, Kogan Page was recognized for developing a production workflow that ensures its front list titles are fully accessible for people who are print disabled. Built to international standards, this bespoke workflow has been certified as Global Certified Accessible (CGA) by Benetech, a world leader in the accessibility field. The jury also cited Kogan Page’s advocacy of an accessible chain of distribution for people who are print disabled.
Constantine Editores earned a Special Commendation for their production of tactile books for children in both print and braille, and their promotion of a shared reading experience by young learners and their families. Constantine Editores was commended for working with various stakeholders to ensure that these beautiful books reach students in primary schools and public libraries across Mexico.
For the first time in the history of the ABC International Excellence Award, the award in the initiative category was presented to an individual, Mr. Ashoka Bandula Weerawardhana. Mr. Bandula has been a key player in ensuring that educational texts are produced in accessible formats in Sri Lanka, having notably developed an efficient production workflow to provide Braille textbooks in Sinhala, Tamil and English using the most recent accessible reproduction techniques. The jury noted that Mr. Bandula also helped advance many technological innovations in the accessibility field, including the development of text-to-speech and optical character recognition in the country, which have contributed to the access to education, information and culture for people with print disabilities in Sri Lanka.
Finally, a Special Commendation was presented to the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, for the scope and breadth of their work in Brazil. For over 75 years, the Dorina Nowill Foundation has been working with people who are visually impaired, offering a full range of services including the production and free distribution of accessible braille, audio and digital publications to persons who are visually impaired across the country. The jury also took note of the Hardware for Good Project that was born from the partnership between the Dorina Nowill Foundation and Google, with the objective of helping people with visual impairments in Brazil during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Through this project, 2600 smartphones were donated to people who are visually impaired to assist them with their online education.
All nominees were judged on the criteria of outstanding leadership or achievements in improving the accessibility of e-books or other digital publications for persons who are blind, have low vision, are dyslexic or have mobility impairments that impact their ability to read the printed word. Winners were selected from a diverse pool of finalists by a jury composed of representatives of publishers, standards bodies, and organizations representing people who are visually impaired, as well as accessibility experts.
According to a 2017 study published in The Lancet, approximately 253 million people are blind or visually impaired world-wide. Nearly 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. A lack of accessible books remains a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.
The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a public–private partnership led by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that brings together all of the key players – organizations representing people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled, authors, publishers, collective management organizations, libraries and other authorized entities, as well as standards bodies. ABC was established in June 2014 to implement the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty. Through an effective international alliance of relevant state and non-state actors, ABC seeks to increase, and distribute, the number of books worldwide in accessible formats - such as braille, audio, e-text and large print.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.