The Right to Read 

One of the things that I have always loved ever since I can remember is reading. It is amazing to sit down and just escape into a good book. There were always things that I missed on TV and in movies growing up due to my sight loss, but I never missed anything in the stories I read.

When I was younger, I was able to read large print, but so many of the popular books that my peers were reading I could not get in large print. There was not a lot of access to audio or eBooks then either. Due to this, I did not read as much as I would have liked because those options did not exist yet.

This issue also affected me in school because the books that we read in school were never in large print or audio. As a result, I had to have a teacher or teachers aid read them too me which made me feel singled out. I could read and I wanted to read independently. I remember being in grade nine or ten and thinking this is ridiculous. Why do I not have the same access to literature that the rest of the world does?

I came across the issue of not having the same access to text books in university. Today this is still an issue as I want to take a course to gain some skills for my job but I can’t take the course because there is no accessible version of the text book. This makes me crazy that in this day and age we can make cars drive us around by a computer, but we can not provide everyone of every ability EQUAL ACCESS to print materials.

I read a lot. I use audio books, eBooks, electronic Braille and print Braille. On more occasions than I can count, when I want to read the latest hot book I can’t because it is not produced in a format that I can access.

There are more than three million Canadians across Canada that are living with a physical, visual or learning disability. The fact that only 2,000 of the 10,000 books being produced across Canada are in accessible formats is disappointing. I find it even more upsetting that many of those titles are being produced by a charity, CNIB. A charity should not be faced with producing accessible materials, it should be something that is required by law and funded by the government.

Access to literature is a basic human right, it is the only way that someone who is blind or partially sighted will have the same access to education and employment. If I told half of the people I knew that they could not read the things they needed to for work because the books were only produced in Braille and not in print that would never be accepted so why are we allowing it the other way around?

2 thoughts on “The Right to Read 

  1. Solution Seeker

    When I was growing up, one of my favorite movies till this day is the famous children’s classic novel Matilda written by Roald Dahl. Matilda always amazes me because her thirst for knowledge gives me an incredible glimpse of what the brain is capable of achieving if we really take time to focus on what we want to do with it. Also, when I heard about the struggle of Malala and other girls in Pakistan to gain an education, I immediately felt like I could relate to their experiences because I myself fought a battle of my own during my secondary schooling years to ensure that I got access to the school books that I needed to succeed in my classes. While Malala fought to stay in school, I spent countless hours in meetings with school officials trying to make sure that the amount of resources I had expanded. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school in 2014 that I actually got all of the books that were necessary for me to fully participate in class. Yet, I can’t help but wonder why so many students around the world, not just those with disabilities but even those who come from underprivilleged backgrounds can’t get adequate acces to books ane other educational materials to prepare them for the future and help them succeed in their academics. Like malala, Shiza Shahid, and other activists worldwide, I too definitely agree that books are an essential part of our daily lives. When I was in middle and high school, I remember one or two weeks every year when my classmates and I would attend presentations in the library to celebrate what’s known as banned books week. Everyone presenting throughout this event always emphasize the importance of reading and tells students that students in other countries don’t have access to books like we have. Although I think that the name of this event should really be changed to something else because it seems to raise awareness about the beauty of reading rather than give a negative impression of the books that kids shouldn’t read, I hope that more could be done to ensure that all students get all of the books that they need to succeed in school. In the island where I live, so many students with disabilities don’t have the technology or other tools necessary to fully be included in their education. I hope that something can be done about this to give all students a chance at a brighter future. Due to the vast amount of resources we can get today at our fingertips, there shouldn’t be a reason why kids can’t get access to books and other information to assist them in their studies. Regardless of whether the book is in digital format or hard copy, everyone should have access to books.

    Liked by 1 person

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