This post is also available in: العربية

More Arabic books in formats aimed at helping children who are  partially sighted or visually impaired will become available as the result of an historic partnership between the Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

An agreement between the two organisations was signed at WIPO’s headquarters on 28 November and will see WIPO providing training, technical assistance and support to the Kalimat Foundation for 100 titles in the Epub3 format aimed at children who are visually impaired.

The Kalimat Foundation’s founder Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi said: “Every child must have access to the education, opportunities and resources needed to read.  This is even more important when a child is visually challenged and there are fewer books available.  We are delighted to be increasing the number of titles published for partially sighted and visually impaired children, and we thank WIPO for their support.”

At WIPO, the agreement was signed by the organisation’s Director General Francis Gurry.  The agreement is part of a number of activities launched under WIPO’s Accessible Books Consortium.  The latter is a public-private partnership that seeks to increase the number of books available worldwide in accessible formats, such as braille, audio, e-text and large print.

The joint initiative is part of the Kalimat Foundation’s mission to ensure the basic right of every child to read and have access to books.  Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi said: “The Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment vision is built on a single premise – that every child has the right to equal access to cultural and intellectual materials which will educate them and enrich their lives.  Partnering with one of the world’s leading cultural organisations like WIPO strengthens the Kalimat Foundation’s efforts to ensure that younger generations have access to books and knowledge – especially those young people who are victims of war, or who are facing forced displacement, or who are specially-abled.”

The Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment was founded in 2016 and takes its name from the Arabic for ‘words’.  Its outreach work includes taking books into disadvantaged areas and into refugee camps.  It believes storytelling can be used to help traumatised children cope with their experiences.