The publisher has brought out more books in braille for this year’s fair than the number of stall visitors it has managed to draw
Sporsho, a braille book publishing house, has set up a stall on the Bangla Academy premises for the Amar Ekushey Book Fair like previous years, but it has managed to attract only two readers in the five days since the fair’s inauguration.
The publishing firm set out on its journey thirteen years ago with the aim of satisfying the book cravings of visually impaired people.
Sporsho, which promotes itself with the slogan “People are blind not because they are unable to see with their eyes, but because they do not have the knowledge to visualize life from within”, has expressed its frustration over the situation this year and attributed the lack of stall visitors to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
The publisher has brought out more books (six, with two more on the way) in braille for this year’s fair than the number of stall visitors it has managed to draw.
Shahriar Kabir Toufik, the individual in charge of the stall, told Dhaka Tribune: “Only two people — Rahul and Nazim, who visited our stall in the previous years as well — came to our booth on Sunday.”
He said he was afraid the stall would not have any more visitors in the remaining days of the book fair. “[Nonetheless] we set up the stall as part of our tradition.”
A braille corner had been put up at the National Library this month under the initiative of Sporsho, he mentioned.
Meanwhile, Nazia Jabeen, founder of the publishing company, said Sporsho would have brought visually impaired bibliophiles to the stall on its own had the Covid-19 situation been under control.
“They are welcome if they wish to come. But we do not want them to be at risk [of contracting coronavirus],” added Nazia Jabeen, who is currently trying to fight off the infectious disease herself.
She continued: “Most of our readers came to our stall last year from the dormitories of Dhaka University. However, they are unable to attend this year’s fair as the residential halls are closed.”
If anyone, from any part of the country, wanted to place an order for books published by Sporsho, they would be able to do so without worrying about any delivery charge, she added.
Md Nazim, one of the two visually impaired booklovers who visited Sporsho’s stall this year, said he had found it challenging to visit the fair but the volunteers helped make things easier for him.
“Sporsho’s stall could have been a place of celebration for the visually impaired but the pandemic thwarted that opportunity,” he added.
Braille is a system of touch reading and writing for visually impaired individuals in which raised dots represent the letters of the alphabet.
Sporsho’s books are published through a specialized braille printer. After printing, the Disabled Child Foundation (DCF) does the work of binding the books.