Website for disabled to share knowledge

BookBole.com provides them with access to books, materials

The steep flight of stairs and the impossibly long corridors have only reminded Rahul that he would not have had a chance to pursue law degree had he been confined to a wheelchair.

“It was on the steps of the college, I realised the importance of accessibility,” Rahul mused as he recollected his time at the college years ago.

That fleeting moment of unease provided him the inspiration to start a company –– Inclusive Planet, which has floated the online platform BookBole.com a few months ago to let the visually challenged share books and materials in accessible format.  

While lack of accessibility to buildings to several mobility impaired persons like him did really hurt Rahul, he was concerned more with the inaccessibility of knowledge to several thousands of visually challenged persons.

“Imagine knowledge is the only means of unshackling them from the strings of poverty and backwardness, but knowledge is not easy to obtain since they have an obstacle due to the social mindset and in the form of an archaic law (Indian Copyright Act 1957),” Rahul, now based in Chennai, says.

‘Personal library’

BookBole.com let users –– who must be a visually challenged  person –– to upload books and materials and they have to create a ‘personal library’ of their own.

While there is provision to keep the books for personal consumption, he/she can share it with others like them who may be interested to read the book.

Members can also create “channels”, a collaborative networking on the site through which they can share knowledge and expertise of their field.

“If someone is a marketing expert, for instance, the person can share the experience with other aspirants who have disability,” Rahul said.

In a matter of months, Bookbole has grown into a major international platform for the visually challenged for sharing accessible books and materials. It has about 1,600 members in 70 countries.

The platform has agreements with DAISY Forum of India (DFI) to post its catalogue of accessible books and has plans to enable publishers to sell accessible books through the site from Christmas.  

Based on suggestions from members, the owners have also decided to introduce stringent identity checks to ensure those wanting to use the site are disabled.  “We are for protecting the interests of the publishers which is equally important,” Rahul adds.

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