Information about Children and Books in Japan

A Symposium "For a Wider Dissemination of Books for Children with Disabilities - Collaboration between libraries and publishers"

【2005-KN004】

The International Library of Children's Literature (ILCL) and the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY) held a symposium - For a Wider Dissemination of Books for Children with Disabilities - Collaboration between libraries and publishers ,"on July 20, 2005. About 100 people, from public libraries, educational institutions, and publishing industries from all over the country, got together at the ILCL.

In the first half of the symposium, a keynote speech "How to publish easy-to-read materials. Experiences from Sweden."was given by Mr. Bror Tronbacke, Director of the Centre for Easy-to-Read and a former member of the Standing Committee of Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons Section in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Mr. Tronbacke explained why making publications easy-to-read is essential not only for the disabled but also for others from the viewpoint of the basic principle of democracy and equity in social participation. He also reported their practice of promoting "Easy-to-Read" materials in Sweden by showing some example publications.

Ms. Hisako Kakuage, Chair of the Executive Committee for the exhibition of the JBBY "Best of Books for Young People with Disabilities", moderated the second stage of the symposium. Four Japanese pioneers who have made and promoted books for children with special needs reported their practices.

Mr. Kaoru Yamauchi is a member of the Committee of Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons Section in the Japan Library Association and a librarian actually working in services for disabled users at the Midori Library in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. He reported on the history and perspective of the library services for children with disabilities in Japan. Looking back at the history, he referred to the reading service for the visually disabled that started in 1970 at the Hibiya Library of the Tokyo Metropolitan Library as the beginning of the services for the disabled in Japanese public libraries.

Ms. Kuniko Wakiya of the Osaka Prefectural Central Library introduced the activities of the Wanpaku Bunko, a section of the library in charge of the service for visually impaired children. The Wanpaku Bunko has produced children's books in Braille and worked for the promotion of the social participation of disabled persons.

Mr. Mamoru Konoike, a freelance editor, who had worked at Kaisei-sha Publishing Co., introduced his own experience of publishing books for children with disabilities at Kaisei-sha. He discussed the difficulty of publishing books for children with disabilities as the market for them is very small. He then proposed that publishing companies should co-finance the establishment of a research organization for the publication of them.

Mr. Tsugumasa Takakura, a professor of Hokkai-Gakuen University and General Director of the Fukinoto Bunko, introduced the activities of the Fukinoto Bunko and their problems. The Fukinoto Bunko has produced books made of cloth and books in large print since the 1970s in Hokkaido. The problems are the aging of active members and the lack of official assistance.

After the second stage, Mr. Tronbacke gave comments on and advice for the activities to develop books for children with special needs in Japan. At the end of the symposium, there was a lively discussion between Mr. Tronbacke and the floor.

This symposium helped the participants to realize the problems to be overcome in the development of books for children with special needs in Japan. To offer every child the joy of reading, however, we have to continue to work to overcome these obstacles one by one for the further development of books for children with special needs in our country.

(2005.11 update)