Accessibility: Italy-Based Fondazione LIA Hits Its 10th Anniversary

In News by Porter Anderson

The reading-accessibility program based in Milan, the LIA Foundation has reached its 10th anniversary in work for sight-impaired readers.

Cristina Mussinelli, secretary-general of Fondazione LIA, at work earlier this month in the professional program of the 2024 Salone del Libro di Torino. Image: SILT

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Characteristics That Best Distinguish Our Publishers’
The Publishing Perspectives world readership is well familiar with Fondazione LIA, the Milan-based nonprofit organization that promotes a culture of accessibility for print-impaired readers in the international book publishing sphere.

As you may remember, LIA—the name comes from Libri Italiana Accessibiliti—started in 2011 as an attempt supported by the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) to catalogue accessible Italian books. At last report, that effort has listed more than 35,000 titles certified by LIA as accessible.

  • With the support of the ministry for cultural heritage and activities, the AIE created the LIA Foundation in 2014 to manage the project and perpetuate its work.
  • By 2017, the Unione Italiana Ciechi e Ipovedenti, the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, joined the foundation as an institutional member.
  • Then in 2019, the Italian Library for the Blind joined, the “Regina Margherita” of Monza, as did the Associazione Italiana Dislessia, the Italian Dyslexia Association.

Not unexpectedly, the LIA Foundation has become a resource for many publishing houses and companies working toward the implementation of the European Accessibility Act, which require full accessibility of new editorial products and services by 2025.

Elisa Molinari

Under the leadership of LIA’s secretary-general Cristina Mussinelli and the program’s project manager Elisa Molinari, Fondazione LIA has become one of the keenest features of the AIE’s work and of the Italian market’s broad-reach efforts to boost readers, inclusive of the sight-impaired element of the population.

At Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20, 2024), Fondazione LIA annually produces one of the most important and informative sessions on the latest news in accessibility issues. Invariably, these sessions are packed: the interest is there, though still not easily discerned by too many publishers.

Rodolfo Masto

In a statement on today’s observance of the 10th anniversary, LIA Foundation president Rodolfo Masto is quoted, wishing the organization “many more anniversaries like this to a reality that promotes significant change.”

Masto has recalled LIA’s “initiatives of important social value which, thanks to the support of the institutions, have trained cultural workers, boys, and girls with visual disabilities and people at risk in the digital divide in accessible reading.

“But they also have contributed to raising awareness among every citizen on the topic thanks to the Readings in the Dark program in schools and such efforts aimed at the general public.”

Innocenzo Cipolletta

AIE president Innocenzo Cipolletti says, “The LIA Foundation embodies some of the characteristics that best distinguish our publishers’ association and its objectives: technological innovation, support for publishers, internationalization, support for the spread of reading among all segments of the population.

“Our support for the foundation—which is today a European reference for accessibility policies in the publishing field within a network with the most important international realities—is a firm point.”

Mario Barbuto

And Mario Barbuto, president of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, extends “particular appreciation to the LIA Foundation “for its daily work which promotes and makes possible the right to read for those with disabilities, like the over 2 million blind and partially sighted people in Italy.”

Today, the LIA Foundation has expanded its activities and deals with all-round digital accessibility. On one hand, it works alongside institutions and the entire publishing chain to allow people with visual disabilities to have full access to book production, with the same quality of reading and possibility to choose from editorial news that all readers have.

On the other hand, LIA has various collaborations and deals with services to companies, supporting those Italian and foreign companies that want to put the person at the center of design, creating digital ecosystems that are accessible to all.

More from Publishing Perspectives on trends and issues involving accessibility in world book publishing is here, more on the Italian market is here, more on the work of Fondazione LIA is here, and more on issues and publishing in Europe is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.