Blind Sight Over Books

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If you are blind and want to read Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone or Nehru’s Discovery of India in Braille, chances are you will give up even before you make it to page one. Indian law requires a blind person to get permission from the copyright-holder every time he/she wishes to read a book. And they can’t legally lend the material to another blind person. Nirmita Narasimhan of the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, says around 80,000 books get published in India each year. Of these, barely 700 are available to the blind. These are mostly course books in different languages, and must be specially converted by organisations serving the disabled. The Centre is part of the Right to Read campaign, which seeks to accelerate change in copyright law. Publishing houses and authors like Shobha De and Harsha Bhogle have also signed up.