It has been more than two decades since Children Book Council of Iran (CBC- IBBY Iran) started its programmes to create quality books for and about disabled children. Through several Unicef projects CBC has been able to create/publish such works and to promote the idea of inclusive library services. We have been fortunate that many works from Iran have been introduced to the international community through IBBY's Catalogues of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.
Our first exhibition experience was when we showed the 2001 collection, which was a great success; therefore, CBC is happy to be hosting the 2005 collection at present. We should express our sincere thanks to Liz Page at the IBBY Secretariat, and to Unicef for the transportation of the collection to Tehran. What follows is a brief report on the Exhibition held at the CBC Library premises from 9-17 November 2005, as a joint programme organized by CBC’s two working groups: Books for Disabled Children Group and CBC Research Library.
The programme had two distinct parts: the exhibition was open from 10.00 to 15.00 every day, and a seminar entitled Culture and the Disabled Child was held from 15.00-19.00. Excerpts or full-length films appropriate to the exhibition theme were shown every day. CBC was particularly lucky in having two distinguished non-Iranian guests: Maha Boulos from Unesco, who attended the inauguration, and Renata Welsh (President of the Austrian IBBY), who addressed the seminar.
Materials included in our exhibition were: the IBBY 2005 selection of 40 books from 14 countries (2 from Iran), the Persian collection of quality books on disabled children published between 1995-2005 (46 books), Iranian tactile books for disabled children (20 items), a selection of audio books, texts of interviews with disabled adults and children on Bookish Memories and Aspirations, reports on library services for the disabled, recent books and pamphlets in English and Persian on ‘connecting with disabled children’, as well as a wide range of bibliographies in Persian and English. The IBBY 2005 catalogue was available in Persian translation.
The Seminar Culture and the Disabled Child organized during our exhibition was divided into different sections: culture and the deaf child; culture and the blind and partially sighted child; culture and the mentally retarded child; and, culture and the bedridden child. In its two calls for papers, CBC had made it clear that it was looking for ‘personal experiences’. The secretariat received over 100 contributions – 10 in Braille – containing a wide range of cultural experiences, only about a quarter of which could be shared during the seminar sessions. We plan to publish the proceedings. We were particularly happy with the active presence of our blind/visually impaired and deaf colleagues as organizers, speakers and participants.
The attendance at the exhibition (including specialists, researchers, authors, illustrators, translators, publishers, etc.) was an average of 30-40 per day, and for the seminar 60-70. CBC has already received several requests to host the international exhibition in Tehran and other provinces.
CBC is deeply grateful to Heidi Cortner Boiesen and her colleagues at the IBBY Documentation Centre for Young People with Disabilities for their excellent work, and it hopes to see more works for disabled children in the forthcoming collections, particularly handmade books as an embodiment of individual concern and local cultures. As for Iran, our general feeling is that ‘quality literature’ for the handicapped child is not yet recognized as such by many people, we no doubt have a long way to go, and remain grateful to IBBY for what it is giving all of us in different ways.
Secretary General of IBBY Iran
Children’s Book Council of Iran
IBBY Documentation Centre of Books for Disabled Young People