March is New Zealand Book month. It is a great initiative. Encouraging people to read our own books is important. Last year during NZ Book Month I blogged The e-reader versus the “real” book. In whatever format, reading a book is an enriching experience.
Despite the inducement of a five dollar book token there are still people in New Zealand who are denied the delight of reading a book.
Even with the inclusion of e-books, only seven per cent of printed material is available to print-disabled people in New Zealand.
Print-disabled people include blind and low vision people, some Deaf, (for whom written English is their second language to NZ Sign Language,) people with dyslexia, people with other learning disabilities and those who physically can’t hold a book, or whose medication inhibits concentration. This is a sizeable group of people.
Wouldn’t it be great if NZ book month focused on the whole range of book formats and readers? How about a blind or deaf ambassador? I’m sure one of those terrific medal-winning Paralympians could be found to do it. How about encouraging a whole range of print-disabled people to read New Zealand books in all formats along with everyone else?
This group of readers are often forgotten by mainstream publishers and book people generally, but, with an aging population and more disabled children attending their local schools this is a growing audience, (and market,) who deserve better. Encourage them too! Everyone should have the right to read.