On the ocassion of World Disability Day, Bar & Bench looks at BookBolé, a platform enabling print disabled readers from across the world to connect and share accessible content. An initiative launched by Inclusive Planet and the Centre for Internet and Society, the website has reached out to 15,000 people across 72 countries in 34 languages since its inception two months ago.
Inclusive Planet is the brainchild of Rahul Cherian and Sachin Malhan, alumni of the National Law School of India University, and Reuben Jacob, the Kochi-based founder of an incubation technology company. The group, in conjunction with other disability organizations, is working on amending the Copyright Act to make it more disabled-friendly.
Addressing the prime problem faced by the print impaired- the lack of accessible material and content- is BookBolé, a platform enabling print disabled readers from across the world to connect and share accessible content. The portal provides an online sharing platform and all around accessible content with the aim of helping disabled people to overcome the barriers they face. Within two months of coming into existence, the website has reached out to 15,000 people across 72 countries in 34 languages.
Rahul Cherian and Sachin Malhan, alumni of the National Law School of India University decided to found Inclusive Planet in 2008 when they discovered that the number of works available in accessible formats was negligible. They were joined by Reuben Jacob, the Kochi-based founder of an incubation technology company. Inclusive Planet is a social venture that was launched with the agenda of creating scalable, technology-led solutions to overcome challenges faced by the differently-abled. Inclusive Planet, in association with the Centre for Internet and Society, launched BookBolé to share such works amongst those who needed them.
Intellectual Property specialist Rahul Cherian is the Founder Partner of IndoJuris Law Offices in Chennai. He has advised the World Blind Union in drafting the proposed International Treaty for Blind. Sachin Malhan, co-founder of Inclusive Planet, is better known as the man behind Law School Tutorials and Rainmaker Training and Recruitment.
"I was inspired by two blind delegates whom I was working with on drafting the treaty for the World Blind Union. They enlightened me on the problem of access to books," explains Rahul Cherian. "I came back to India, did some research and found out that nobody was working on access issues." Having known Reuben for more than 20 years, and Sachin since law school, Cherian asked for their involvement in his new project, 'Readable', the precursor to BookBolé.
The group, in conjunction with other disability organizations, is working on amending the Copyright Act to make it more disabled-friendly. "The Copyright Act is currently, for your print disabled person, in the stone age. In this day and age, the disenfranchised need not just active steps, but affirmative steps," says Cherian, who is lobbying with the government to amend the Act to make it disabled friendly.
BookBolé also has a "take down policy" according to which, if any authorized person notifies them of infringing content, such shall be removed from the website. Recently a group of individuals representing the disabled met Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal to push for copyright reform. The Registrar for Copyrights, G.R. Raghavender has confirmed that the changes have been incorporated in the proposed amendment, a major victory for the disabled in India.