Is an impoverished fiction book rewritten in easy-to-understand language? Is it reasonable to think that at least a fifth of Lithuanian society cannot read a regular printed book? How to live with dyslexia and what will you have to do in old age, when you finally have time for a book, but no health for reading? These and other questions will be answered by the Vilnius Book Fair, which, following the example of the most progressive Western publishers, invites you to discover affordable books and their readers.

Availability of literature is not "affordable price" and not the availability of a bookstore where the desired book is waiting. Available publication (eng. accessible publication) is a publication that can be read by all people, regardless of their disability or individual abilities.

"A freeing society, experience taken from other countries, changing user habits, the legal environment create conditions for adapting services to people with disabilities, improving them, giving them uniqueness and discovering new audiences," says Inga Davidonienė, director of the Lithuanian Audiosensory Library, which provides services to people who cannot read. of ordinary printed text, director. - Working in the field of information accessibility, we see every day how huge the audience of undiscovered readers is, so it is no coincidence that we initiate the topic of accessibility at the Vilnius Book Fair. People with disabilities or individual reading needs are also consumers of culture and would be happy to purchase and read books if they were available to them. We are extremely grateful to the organizers of the fair for their support and for the fact that part of the activities and events will be devoted to other forms of reading, to readers who read in a different way."

You don't have to see to read

What is an accessible digital book and how to read without sight will be experienced in the Hall of Young Readers. Here, under the motto of the Lithuanian audiosensory library, "Books speak your way", visitors to the fair will be able to meet people who read differently due to vision or other difficulties and try out the latest reading technologies they use together.  

"It will be possible not only to experience how blind people use modern technologies, such as a screen reader and voice synthesis, but also to try the EPUB format, which is considered the standard of accessible publishing, audio books, films with sound representation. Even getting to know Braille, which is not the first time that Braille has been demonstrated at the book fair, will be different this time - we will experience how the digital line of Braille works. All those interested will learn what an accessible publication and inclusive publishing are and what technologies will be used to create the book of the future, promises Aušrinė Žilinskienė, the coordinator of literature accessibility topics at the Vilnius Book Fair, the head of the inclusive publishing project implemented by the Lithuanian Audiosensory Library. - We will also invite visitors to exclusive readings - we often think that in order to read you need to see, but at the book fair we will be able to make sure that you can read without having a paper book. And even in the dark.”

Young people with dyslexia and old people with poor vision will find the right format for them

"Apparently, in the 10th grade I had to read and report F. Dostoevsky's The Idiot." I, of course, paid, but I didn't read the book, - says Darius Blažinskas, one of the founders of the Learning Peculiarities Center "Labirintas". - That book is several volumes, it still gives me chills... But now I'm reading the audiobook and I'm already finishing the second volume. I'm very happy with myself and I'm glad I discovered audiobooks."

Darius has dyslexia, which he only found out about when his son was diagnosed with dyslexia. This neurological disorder, which causes difficulty in reading, is usually inherited. Dyslexia is still too rarely diagnosed in Lithuania, and a large number of students do not even suspect why, despite their efforts, they still cannot read fluently.

In the Young Readers' Hall, we will invite you to meet teenagers who have dyslexia and talk about how they manage to "survive" at school. The play "I Tried" is also planned to be shown at the Vilnius Book Fair, about a young man who faces many challenges due to dyslexia, and while trying to hide his "trouble", gets into the most curious situations.

People who loved reading very much in their youth, but are forced to give up this hobby in their old age due to failing eyesight or deteriorating physical health, experience completely different reading challenges. "Lithuanian Audiosensory Library tries to solve this problem by visiting elderly people living in remote areas: the team arriving by ELVIS bus tells about audio books and presents simple ways to listen to them. More and more libraries in the country are joining ELVIS administrators - this means that people who do not use the Internet and cannot normally read can get an audio book closer to home", Ligita Vasalauskaitė, head of the User Service Department of the Lithuanian Audiosensory Library, invites the elderly to the nearest library.

You will be able to meet the ELVIS bus team at the Vilnius Book Fair - in a discussion about the aging society and our possibilities to extend the pleasure of reading as long as possible, using audio books. The ELVIS stand of the virtual library itself will be waiting for you in the third hall.

How many of them can't read normally?

The Audiosensory Library of Lithuania, having reviewed and summarized research conducted in Europe and Lithuania, found that at least 10% of people cannot read ordinary printed books. Lithuanian population, including 7 percent - due to dyslexia, 2 percent. - due to poor eyesight and 1 percent. - due to physical health problems that prevent you from sitting, turning pages or holding a book.

Meanwhile, the experience of Northern and Western European countries shows that another 20 percent. publications needed by society in an easy-to-understand language. These people cannot understand a regular book due to intellectual disability, age-related changes, dementia, other neurological features or simply because Lithuanian is not their native language (by the way, users of Lithuanian sign language are also classified as non-native speakers). And if in the first case we are talking about people who need other formats of the publication (audio books, books in Braille, accessible digital publications), then in the second case it is necessary to modify the content of the publication itself. At the Vilnius Book Fair, attention will be paid to all these groups of readers and to a wide range of literature accessibility topics.

The first fiction book in easy-to-understand language

"Since 2006 The Reading Promotion Program is being implemented in Lithuania, but until now we had nothing to offer to some potential readers, because fiction in an easily understandable Lithuanian language was not allowed, - says Inga Davidonienė. - People with intellectual disabilities have never been equated with "real" readers. They were encouraged to read children's fairy tales - and this insulted their dignity, because they are adults, interested in the same topics as the typical public. After submitting the project to the Lithuanian Culture Council, at the end of this year we will publish the first fiction book in an easy-to-understand language - "My name is Marytė" by Alvydas Šlepik. Already in the title of the book, in order to achieve an easy-to-understand language, a correction was needed - the word "is" appeared, because the meaning of the hyphen used in the original may not be clear to the target audience."

Easy-to-understand language is clear, coherent and concrete language that does not use artistic means of expression, and aims to convey the story in simple sentences made up of frequently used words, accompanied by easily recognizable illustrations. In Sweden, the first book in an easy-to-understand language was published in 1967. Currently, Swedish libraries and bookstores offer a wide selection of fiction written in an easy-to-understand language.  

The first fiction book in an easy-to-understand language will be presented together with the author at the Vilnius Book Fair. The book will not be sold, but it will be available on the shelves of Lithuanian libraries or in the libraries of independent living homes.

Alvydas Šlepikas: "I wanted as many people as possible to hear the experience of the "wolf children"

The "translation" of fiction into an easy-to-understand language causes concern - one hears replies that the beauty of the language, the aesthetic function, and literature are "darkened" as if they are no longer important. So a natural question arises - how did Alvydas Šlepikas, the author of the book "My name is Marytė", decide to entrust his text to experts who rewrite the book in an easily understandable language?

"Some of the mentioned comments were made without delving into the meaning, the necessity of books in easy-to-understand language, fearing that books in easy-to-understand language will, say, replace ordinary books for students, and thus they will not experience what real literature is," A. Šlepikas summarizes the thoughts expressed by the opponents. . - This fear seems understandable to me. But I also understand that people with intellectual disabilities often feel rejected, left alone."

"On the other hand, the initiative of the organizers of the project was also very responsive to my own goal. I deliberately wrote the book "My name is Marytė" in a certain form: in separate short episodes, in clear sentences, I tried to have a lot of action, to reveal a wide context, but to use few words. I wanted both teenagers and older people to read it. When I got to know the "wolf children", when I understood what they experienced, I wanted as many people as possible to find out about it as soon as possible", says the author. And this vision is being fulfilled - the experience of "wolf children" will be learned by a community of readers who have not been discovered until now.

See you at the Vilnius Book Fair in 2024. on February 22-25. The organizers of the fair are the Association of Lithuanian Publishers, the Lithuanian Institute of Culture and the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Center LITEXPO.

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