Forty-five books on the age of Sangam will be made freely available in Braille format

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A visually impaired lawyer from Madurai filed a PIL plea asking the state to release Braille version of Thirukkural in Tamil and English

A visually impaired lawyer from Madurai filed a PIL plea asking the state to release Braille version of Thirukkural in Tamil and English

Taking note that the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, Chennai will distribute 45 “Sanga Ilakkiya Noolgal” and “Thirukkural” in Braille for free to the visually impaired, the Madurai Court of the Madras High Court appreciated the measures taken by the authorities.

A divisional bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and J. Sathya Narayana Prasad was told that 75% of the work had been completed and would be completed by the end of December. According to a communication from the Director of Tamil Development Department, visually impaired persons could send a copy of their ID card with the required details to the Director of Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), Chemmozhi Salai, Perumbakkam, Chennai -600 100, Tamil Nadu, and the books would be delivered to them.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation motion filed in 2018 by P. Ramkumar of Madurai, a visually impaired lawyer, asking the state to release the Braille version of Thirukkural in Tamil and English.

The court observed: “We are in the age of a global ‘book famine’, which means the unavailability of books and printed works in an accessible format for people with ‘reading disabilities’ , including the visually impaired.

The court said it was invented in the context of the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for people who are blind, partially sighted or unable to read print. The Marrakesh Treaty focuses on removing intellectual property (copyright) barriers, in addition to highlighting the lack of accessibility of books for people with disabilities and the importance of breaking down these barriers to eradicate the “starvation of books”.

The motion for public interest litigation reflected a situation of shortage of books, as Braille form of Thirukkural in Tamil and English for the visually impaired, the judges noted.

In a counter-affidavit, the state argued that the Braille version of Thirukkural and related materials were commercially available. It was reported that the National Institute for the Empowerment of Visually Impaired People (Divyangjan) was the competent authority to distribute Thirukkural in Braille format free of charge.

It was further stated that the State, through the Department of Tamil Development, has taken all serious measures to promote and disseminate Tamil literature, especially Thirukkural. The Indian Association for the Blind in Chennai and Madurai had released Thirukkural in seven Braille volumes in Tamil and English and was selling it at the preferential rate of ₹1,960. Various other organizations were selling the audio format of Thirukkural. The regional center of Divyangjan distributed the book in braille format free of charge.

“There is no doubt that Thirukkural, a holy book like the Bible and the Quran, has been accepted as universally applicable to daily life in all walks of life and has been translated into over 90 languages. It has been considered the jewel of moral philosophies covering all branches of life. This is also known as truthful statements,” the judges observed.

Thirukkural taught morality and wisdom, judges observed and ordered the authorities to give wide publication on the availability of Sangam and Thirukkural literature in Braille in Tamil to enable visually impaired people to read, recite, understand and enjoy the glory and culture of this land. The petitioner was free to approach CICT to receive the Braille version of Thirukkural and other texts free of charge, the judges said.

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