TUESDAY MARCH 16, 2021: PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – Republic Reader books were a vital part of almost every West Indian child’s educational journey. Those books are currently out of print and replaced by The Caribbean Rhythm Language Arts Literacy and Numeracy Programme Books 1 – 5 written by our very own Frank M. Porter. Although the books are fundamental learning material, they still remain inaccessible to a number of students, namely, those who are visually impaired, blind or print disabled. Now, through a partnership between the Digicel Foundation, National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) and SVH Audio Publishing Company, these books will be converted to audio recordings to increase access for persons with disabilities.
NALIS, is the “Authorised Entity” under the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired (VIP) or otherwise print disabled. The state agency entered into an agreement with the Digicel Foundation and SVH Audio Publishing Company for the conversion of The Caribbean Rhythm Language Arts Literacy and Numeracy Programme Books 1 – 5. The Digicel Foundation through its EPIC programme approved a grant of TTD$35,000 to facilitate the cost associated with the conversion of the written texts. Once completed, this initiative will greatly benefit children and adults who are visually impaired, as they will now have equal access to the content for the improvement of their language arts and literacy skills.
Speaking at the brief launch, Chairman of NALIS, Mr. Neil Parsanlal shared that projects of this kind are absolutely essential since the ongoing pandemic has exposed a digital divide. He said that NALIS continues to pay particular attention to the visually impaired to ensure that there is material available for their educational needs. Penny Gomez, CEO of Digicel Foundation said, “Supporting projects like this is at the heart of what we do at the Foundation.” She congratulated Mr. Frank Porter and SVH Audio publishing for being game changers and pioneering this work locally. She also stated, “The audio recording of the books ensures that persons with visual impairment are not left behind and they have an equal opportunity to succeed.”