Braille books are accessible for the first time at the price of a classic book

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This Wednesday, January 4, World Braille Day, more than 2,000 books in Braille have been made available at a book price, which until then was only applied to so-called classic books, found in bookstores. An initiative that allows books to be cheaper and therefore more accessible to visually impaired people.

According to the estimates ofWorld Health Organization, at least 2.2 billion people have visual impairments that affect near or far vision worldwide. In France, the French Federation of the Blind an estimated 1.7 million people are visually impaired (207,000 blind and 932,000 moderately visually impaired). So this announcement is made by Braille Transcription and Editing Center (CTEB) in reducing the price of books on World Braille Day sounds like a success.

The single book price law of August 10, 1981 – Lang’s law – provides that the same book is sold at the same price to the end customer, up to a discount of 5% that can be made by each retailer. But this single price, also called the bookseller’s price, does not apply to Braille books. ” For nearly forty years this was not possible due to the cost of producing Braille books. “, explained Adeline Coursant, CTEB director.

CTEB has the largest production capacity for Braille books in France and also supplies several media libraries abroad – in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and in certain African countries in Africa that speak French -. But the cost of making a book is 700 euros and it takes three weeks in total between the time of transcription, proofreading and printing the book. ” It requires more time and more resources. And this necessarily affects the purchase price of the book, which is three to five times more expensive than a classic book sold in bookstores. “Adeline Coursant recalls.

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The financial means required to maintain this unique price

If the announcement of better access to braille books sounds like a victory, it is a short-lived one. Since its creation in 1989, CTEB has always fought to find funding to produce more books in Braille, ” to restore social inequality in access to culture and access to books “. But it was only because of a coordinating fund within the CTEB that the accessibility of Braille books at a bookseller’s price became possible. A risky bet for the association considering- it considers that it only has the means to publish books with their own funds for two years. After that, he hopes to continue thanks to a lot of help: ” Donations, assistance from public authorities or patrons “, refers to the CTEB director.

Vincent Michel, honorary president of the Federation of the Blind of France, insisted on the excessive selling price of books in Braille before the establishment of this single price: ” For a book that costs 20 euros in bookstores, it costs 80 euros in the catalog of braille books offered by CTEB. This means that a visually impaired reader will pay 80 euros out of pocket, as no shopping aid exists for blind readers.

At that price, these readers cannot afford to buy many books a year, where they can get more thanks to the bookseller’s price now applied to Braille books. The CTEB catalog has until now offered its books for sale between 60 and 122 euros, they will now be sold at prices between 11 and 30 euros. So it’s a” burst of joy for all “, believes Adeline Coursant. But better access to culture through books depends not only on their selling price, but also on the diversity of books offered.

Enable better access to knowledge

More than 100,000 books were produced and printed in France, but only 3% were transcribed in Braille, a very limited choice for visually impaired readers. A lack of diversity of books regrets the CTEB and the French Federation of the Blind in one voice. CTEB has a catalog of 2,000 books in Braille, but this implies a difficult choice for the selection of books. Obviously, the books that receive prizes and part of the literary returns are published by CTEB, but each book is sold in ten or twenty copies on average, because of the price. The number is far from sales of classic books, estimated at 422 million copies in 2020 by national publishing union.

Access for all to books is important, because it allows access to knowledge: ” We cannot speak of social integration without total access to books, and it is through books that knowledge passes “recalls Vincent Michel. For the honorary president of the Federation of the Blind of France, reading remains one of the keys to success at school and university, but many books and special works are not transcribed in Braille. ” So now we got through, but we didn’t win it all. »

A further step towards cultural access has therefore been made for visually impaired readers, but the CTEB, like the Federation of the Blind in France, hopes in the future to produce more books. And for a long time, almost all books published in bookstores will be accessible in Braille – in paper or digital version -, in large print or in audio recordings.

Also read: Sound library: a concept that listens to the blind and visually impaired

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