(MENAFN - Editorial) The '1001 Titles' initiative by Sharjah-based cultural initiative Knowledge without Borders (KwB), organised a panel discussion at the Moscow International Book Fair 2019, titled ‘The role of 1,001 Titles initiative in promoting cultural diversity’ and held as part of the Sharjah ‘Guest City’ celebrations at the book fair that runs till September 8.
Moderated by Mariam Al Obaidli, Corporate Communication Manager, Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), the panel featured Majd Al Shehhi, manager of the ‘1,001 Titles’ initiative; Dr. Alyazia Khalifa, Board Member and General Secretary of EPA and Director of Al Fulk Translation and Publishing; Amna Al Mazmi, Manager of Kalimat Foundation for Children's Empowerment; and Tamer Saeed, Managing Director of Kalimat Group.
Disseminating information about the ‘1,001 Titles’ initiative, including its objective and activities in supporting Emirati publishers and authors locally as well as globally, Al Shehi said: “During the previous edition of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), the initiative signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kalimat Foundation for Children's Empowerment (KF) to promote the publication of accessible learning materials for special needs children in the UAE and Arab region. As per the MoU, the initiative supports the production of 200 accessible Epub3 books under KF’s ‘Ara’ (I See) initiative.”
Commending the collaborative efforts of the initiative with KF and other local publishing houses to support the education of visually impaired children, Al Shehi said: “Access to knowledge is a basic human right, and our mission is to make knowledge accessible to everyone.”
Amna Al Mazmi briefed the audience on the Kalimat Foundation for Children's Empowerment, launched by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi to provide books for every child in the Arab world, especially children with special needs and those who live in areas affected by conflict, natural disasters and other difficult conditions.
Regarding the ‘Ara’ initiative, launched by KF to promote awareness about children who are visually impaired, Al Mazmi said: “We conducted surveys to collect information about children with special needs, their geographical distribution, and how to meet their needs. Based on the results, we have partnered with the ‘1,001 Titles’ initiative to provide these children with books in an accessible format. In order to facilitate the publication of these customised books, KF has collaborated with the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) to organise training workshops for about 10 local publishing houses.”
Dr. Al Yazia highlighted the role of the initiative in supporting publishers and encouraging them to participate in the publication of books for visually impaired children. She said: “The financial, moral and logistical support offered by the initiative to the publishers enhanced their contributions to implement non-profit projects.”
Al Yazia suggested that companies operating in the publishing sector should organise training courses for their staff to build their skillsets and enable them to create books for children with visual impairment.
Tamer Saeed stressed Kalimat Group's commitment to providing knowledge sources and learning tools for visually impaired children. He said that the group was one of the partners which had signed the Marrakesh VIP Treaty, a collaboration that aims to provide books in formats that are accessible to children who are visually impaired.
He noted that the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative seeks to address challenges faced by the Arab publishing sector by providing financial and logistical support to writers and publishers and facilitated the production of Epub3 books. The initiative also highlighted the importance of providing publishers with technical assistance and guidance on how to produce non-traditional books.
"Thanks to the support of the initiative, we are able to publish content in accessible formats to meet the needs of children with visual impairments." Tamer Saeed concluded.