On 28 October, the Italian accessible books foundations, Fondazione LIA, welcomed two new institutional members meaning the foundation now brings together all of the associations involved in promoting accessibility.
Fondazione LIA, a non-profit organization created in Italy by AIE – the Italian Publishers Association in collaboration with UICI – the Italian Blind and Visual Impaired People, has welcomed two new organisations into its membership: the most important association representing dyslexic people (Associazione Italiana Dislessia (AID)) and the Biblioteca Italiana per i Ciechi (Italian Library for the Blind) “Regina Margherita” di Monza (BIC).
The membership of AID and BIC is the final result of a collaboration that started in 2001 where the UICI, BIC and AIE signed an agreement for the production and distribution of the accessible copies of textbooks to blind and visual impaired students. In 2013 AIE signed a similar agreement with AID for dyslexic students. Both the agreement has been renewed and are still in place.
“Thanks to the work done during these years - declared the AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi - with the collaboration of 76 publishing brands, representing more than 80% of the fiction and non-fiction Italian market, the catalog managed by the LIA Foundation today offers to people with visual impairments the possibility of choosing among more than 24,000 titles, including best sellers, literary prizes, children's books, high quality essays and is the largest catalog of e-books, created as born accessible since their first publication, available at international level".
In September the foundation published a new whitepaper entitled E-Books for All: Towards an accessible digital publishing ecosystem, aimed at providing an overview of the different areas of focus for everyone in the book supply chain: content producers, aggregators and digital distributors, Books in Print Catalogues, online bookstores and platforms, developers of reading solutions. It identifies the role each person should play in the accessible ecosystem, describing the critical elements to be considered and providing the relevant references to the international standard accessibility specifications or guidelines.
The LIA and UICI President Mario Barbuto emphasizes: “starting from today, people with print disabilities will enjoy a further opportunity to access books, culture and knowledge. Not only a very vast catalog of accessible titles, but the involvement of institutions providing accessible adaptations of the books, in a new alliance between publishers and readers aimed at overcoming physical and technical barriers that may hinder the full right of equality among all citizens”.
“The meaning of our presence in the institutional bodies of the LIA Foundation - declared the Biblioteca Italiana per i Ciechi President Pietro Piscitelli - must be sought in the desire to create and develop every possible synergy to face the new challenges that technology offers to visually impaired people for a true social emancipation. In our opinion - concludes the President - the LIA Foundation is today the most accredited reality to allow those who want a culture without barriers to work together on shared goals ".
Sergio Messina, President of the Italian Dyslexia Association, said: "We are proud to be part of the LIA Foundation, with the aim of working together to ensure inclusion and the right of access to people with reading disabilities and reading disorders as well, starting from our strong expertise in this field, what our associations have already done over the years and developing new projects together ".
The LIA Board of Directors also appointed the creation of a Scientific Committee, which will support the Foundation in achieving its mission of allowing all people with visual impairments and difficulties in reading printed books to choose how, when and, above all, what to read, thus encouraging their social integration and active participation in the world through access to culture, education and work.
The members of the Scientific Committee are:
- Irene Enriques – Managing director of the Zanichelli publishing house, who will also be the Scientific Committee President
- Alessandro Malinverno - Managing director ABI Servizi
- Andrea Gavosto - Managing director Fondazione Agnelli
- Andrea Notarnicola - Diversity management expert and Newton S.p.A. partner
- Mario Giacomo Dutto - Former General Manager Italian Ministry of Education
- Barbara Leporini - ISTI CNR PhD representing BIC
- Antonella Trentin – AID Vice-president
Read more about the work of the foundation here.