Ms. Twitter UK (for August 2009), Rebecca Woodhead, pointed to Twitter's ability to bring a social element to reading and writing. And today, Cory Doctorow illustrated her point beautifully. Patti Smith, who teaches visually impaired kids, wrote to him to thank him for making one of his novels available as an e-book and licensing it under the Creative Commons license. She turned it into a book in Braille.
Books in Braille seem to be widely available in two genres: little kid's books and Serious Classic Works. Obviously, that leaves a huge gap and it's likely to leave the blind or visually impaired out in the cold when it comes to literature. It's not just that teachers see this as a problem - Smith's students want to read, but there's very little YA literature available in Braille. Stories are important and to my mind, the only thing worse than someone who doesn't care about reading is someone who wants to read, but is, in some way, prevented from doing so. The good news? Three cheers for the internet! Cory Doctorow posted in his blog and tweeted about the issue and so another author, Paula Johansen, sent some of her work as e-books to Patti Smith. Hopefully more authors will follow suit, because everyone deserves to have stories.
Relevant links, for the interested:
Cory Doctorow's Post & Tweet
Word Nerd Army Issue 7: Twitter Brings a Social Element to Reading and Writing
Word Nerd Army Issue 10: Stories are Important
And something I can and will plug at every opportunity: The Literacy Site Seriously, you click a button on a website once a day and a kid gets a book. Easiest way to support literacy ever.
EDIT: If you want to help with textbooks (apparently fiction is not on the agenda unless in an academic anthology), check out Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and consider volunteering if you can get to one of their training centers.[full post]