Mongolia library success sparks law change
All blind and visually impaired people in Mongolia now legally entitled to be issued with a free DAISY talking book player

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Learning to use DAISY readers at Ulaanbaatar Public Library

All blind and visually impaired people in Mongolia now have the legal right to be issued with a free DAISY talking book player following a change in the law.

"This represents a huge opportunity for blind and visually impaired people to have equal access to the information and knowledge which they so desperately need to improve their lives," said Mr M. Tsengel, DAISY Expert at Ulaanbaatar Public Library (UPL).

The law change is a result of intensive advocacy by the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB), and the success of UPL’s DAISY Talking Books service. There are an estimated 130,000 blind and visually impaired people in Mongolia.

With support from EIFL’s Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP), UPL installed a digital recording studio and has recorded about 90 books into DAISY format. UPL also teaches people how to use DAISY players (readers). The MNFB is the library’s main partner in implementing the service.

"Our task now is to get ready for the thousands of blind and visually impaired people who will be coming to our libraries and asking for digital talking books. Our digital talking book recording studio will be working full time!" said Mr Tsengel.

‘Our production of numerous books in DAISY format greatly influenced the legal adoption of DAISY players,’ he added.

The Social Welfare Law of 2009 entitled blind and visually impaired people to receive a white cane, a Braille watch, other Braille devices like paper and a typewriter, and a tape recorder every five years. The amended law replaces the tape recorders with DAISY talking book players.

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System. A DAISY book is a digital talking book that may contain both sound and text. The main advantage of DAISY is that the audio files are structured so that they can be navigated and used in a similar way to a printed book. For example, people using DAISY can add bookmarks and jump from page to page and chapter to chapter quickly and easily.

The new law came into force on July 1. To ensure that distribution of DAISY players is well organized, national and city government labour and social welfare departments will sign an agreement with several non-governmental organizations that serve blind and visually impaired people.

Read more about Ulaanbaatar Public Library and their successful talking books service.