The visually impaired and Print-disabled are facing a “Book famine”: Madras High Court

In a recent judgment the Madras High Court observed that the visually impaired and Print disabled persons are facing a “book famine” due to the unavailability of books and printed works in the accessible format. The observance was made in the matter of P Ramkumar v. State and others (W.P.(MD) No.5769 of 2018) and was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice R. Mahadevan and Hon’ble Mr. Justice J. Sathya Narayana Prasad.


To guarantee that those who are blind or visually impaired can read, recite, and appreciate the substance of the Thirukkural on their own, a writ was filed under Article 226 asking an order to the respondents to publish the Thirukkural in Braille in Tamil and English with standard interpretation.

The petitioner is a visually impaired person and could not enjoy the essence of Thirukkural due to lack of its publication in braille format. Further claiming that this caused the violation of his fundamental right under Article 21 A as Thirukkural is a part of the school curriculum and visually impaired people could not get such supreme knowledge because of the unavailability of Braille version. The respondents, however, argued about the wide availability of the book in Braille format which was available free of cost for the visually impaired persons.


Observing that we are currently facing a book famine that is the unavailability of printed media and books and their appropriate accessibility to the visually impaired and Print disabled, the court agreed with the pleading of the petitioner. Further the court reiterated the importance of Thirukkural in Tamil language and said that it is a literature of virtue, moral and ethical values.

The court further mentioned all the prime laws which prohibit discrimination against the visually impaired and agreed that it was a violation of their fundamental right. 

It further directed the government to print and make accessible to all the visually impaired and print disabled persons the free copy of Thirukkural in Braille in Tamil and English with standard interpretation.

The court also noted that the Indian Association for the Blind in Chennai and Madurai has published “Thirukkural” in Braille Version both in Tamil and English, which is available at the concessional rate of Rs.1,960/- and the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities (Divyangjan) Regional Centre is also distributing the book of Thirukkural in Braille version at free of cost to the visually impaired persons, subject to eligibility and the same can be accessed by the petitioner. With these observations the writ was disposed of. 

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