Launching sign languages on the Global Digital Library

The world has made an extraordinary commitment to literacy: by 2030, all children and youth should be able to read. Books are essential tools for learning, but many millions of children around the world lack adequate access to them. Pursuing literacy without books – whether digital or print – is like trying to eradicate disease without vaccines. 

Without reading materials in a language they use and understand, children struggle to master basic literacy, setting them behind. For the millions of children and youth with disabilities, many books remain inaccessible, due to the book creation process and the lack of books in relevant formats. 

The Global Book Alliance, the world’s only partnership of donor agencies and implementing NGOs with a primary mission of closing the book gap worldwide, is collaborating with the Global Digital Library to expand the accessibility of digital and print books for all.

The GDL, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad, is redoubling its efforts to ensure that the open-source platform is accessible for all users. The GDL promotes the use of a “born accessible” philosophy, to encourage authors and content creators to take accessibility into account from the beginning of the book creation process. 

But, in many cases, the GDL also receives content that was not “born accessible,” and then works to adapt that content so that all learners, including those who are deaf or blind, can benefit from the library’s resources.

For deaf children developing reading skills, books supported with sign language video are an essential learning tool to bridge between language acquisition and literacy skills development.  

The GBA, the GDL, and the All Children Reading Grand Challenge for Development consortium are pleased to announce two sign languages on the Global Digital Library, to support deaf students’ access to GDL resources: 

Additional sign language adaptations, as well as other accessibility options, will continue to be developed and added to the GDL. 

Only through open licensing and completely accessible book formats can we truly create a world where there are books for all. 

Learn more on the Global Digital Library.