There is a small circle of people who love to entertain themselves between the pages of a book, who love to get lost and undertake the adventures of somebody else and share with them many hours of intense companionship, where they can often find a part of themselves, be it good or bad.
Amusement does not only mean laughing, but also spending some time, our precious and lacking time, doing something in which we are interested, even if this means crying and suffering with the unfortunate protagonist of a story. Reading again and again the atrocities committed by foul characters without a moment of relief, not even at the end of the book, because not all stories have a happy ending, also in books… but I got so much fun, entertainment, leisure, concentration, emotions while reading!
But is reading limited to letters? Since there are people who can read palms or coffee grounds, images can be read as well, as we can read music… and with images I mean comics, but also photographs, drawings, paintings and sculptures, movies. A book is an object made of paper, bound and with a cover, it can be a novel, an essay, a comic book, an illustrated album, an art catalogue, a Spanish language course… but I can extend the experience of reading to a DVD, a CD, a picture on the wall. And we can also read, or precisely listen to books. AUDIOBOOKS. So, if I say that I read and/or feel somebody since I linger on them and listen to what they are telling me with their mouth and body, I am not wrong. I live in a world made of books of different materials. But beware, I am not saying that watching a movie is the same as reading a book, since they make use of two different alphabets and two different ways of dialoguing with the reader/viewer… this thought, like any other, is getting complicated and twisted, like a small plant that has to grow in one way or another and can never stop… but I wanted to say something else.
Since I was a teenager, I have entertained myself more than once trying to figure out the everyday life of a deaf person, and I felt good when I allowed myself three days of complete silence and meditation in the Pyrenees, even if I was there with my friends; then I wondered how a blind person could feel, so I spent two days and one night blindfolded and stuck at home, relying on the assistance of two foul and sadistic individuals: my cousin and his girlfriend. It was really intense. I did not need my voice. But I needed Iight indeed. The darkness, and no possibility to read, watch a movie, a picture. I could only listen. I also dedicated some time to listen to the versions for the visually-impaired people and read the subtitles for the hearing-impaired people, just out of pure curiosity and much-loved idleness, which is a fundamental part of my personality. Without idleness, I wouldn’t be curious, I wouldn’t have ideas, never. I mean, laying in my bed and staring at the ceiling, or rather at that patch of sky out of the window, and thinking. Thinking freely until I find a reason to get up.
Then, one day, I met four people at the Bologna Book Fair, from CBM Italia Onlus; they told me they wished to make some books about blindness, empathy, inclusion and disability. Above all, they told me I would be able to imagine, they gave me the materials for doing it. I read books about this topic. I talked at length and shared with Roger Olmos the discovery of that colourless world. I met a blind person (and I desired to be seen). Blindfolded, we took part in a sculpture workshop. I visited the Milan Institute for the Blind and the Cavazza Institute in Bologna. The CBM series by #logosedizioni came to life, with three volumes published so far: BLIND by Lorenzo Mattotti, LUCIA by Roger Olmos and ANNA DEI MIRACOLI by Ana Juan.
Among all information I collected – a great deal – about this dark world, I treasured three words: EMPATHY, i.e. the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes, which I already felt but without naming it; INCLUSION, which I was not familiar with, since, despite being an inclusive person, I always tend to exclude myself; and EDUCATION and its vital importance in order to overcome any disability and integrate, be included in our society. Also in the small society of those who enjoy reading… I’m getting to the point, please be patient.
At the same time, I started to work on a series of books for children, called CIOPI’S LIBRARY, meant to convey them the pleasure of reading in company, developing a free program of workshops addressed to schools, called CIOPI’S WORKSHOP, and a free children’s magazine, called CIOPILOPI, but that’s another story…
Two plus two is always four. So it was: EMPATHY + INCLUSION + EDUCATION became the INCLUSIVE CIOPI’S LIBRARY. A collection of illustrated books by #logosedizioni transformed into audiobooks for the blind or visually impaired people; it’s not a simple reading, but a soft, professional voice, the voice of Grazia Minarelli, performing the words written by the authors of our books, and above all the descriptions of the illustrations complementing our editions, written by the poetess, writer and editor Francesca Del Moro. Our goal is to convey the magic and the colours of illustration also to the people who cannot see but can only imagine. If we can translate words into sounds and images, I thought we could also translate images into words and sounds. And to do things right, to ensure that all this does not remain just a good intention, all this is supervised by dr. Paola Gamberini, expert in the issues of school integration of visually impaired children and kids.
Because, if a book has to be read in the classroom, then all the pupils of the class, without exception, should be able to enjoy it.
EMPATHY. INCLUSION. EDUCATION.