Bookshare, the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for individuals with print disabilities, has reached two major milestones in its work to bring reading equality to disadvantaged populations.
First, Bookshare’s collection now surpasses a quarter of a million titles, thanks to the sheer dedication of volunteers around the world and partnerships with more than 500 publishers who donate their digital files. Titles range from vocational to research to teacher-recommended reading. Popular titles are available from publishers like Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Wiley, and others, as well as more than 14,000 textbooks.
Second, the library now serves well over 300,000 members with qualified print disabilities; the majority are U.S. students with visual impairments, physical disabilities, and severe learning disabilities like dyslexia. U.S. K–12 and post-secondary student memberships are no cost, thanks to awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. These awards also helped Bookshare provide free reading technologies and apps for members to read digital accessible ebooks in a variety of formats, including DAISY Text, DAISY Audio, Braille Ready Format, and MP3. Additionally, Bookshare has formed partnerships with Wounded Warriors and VetSuccess.org to provide library memberships for qualified Veterans.
Jim Fruchterman, a MacArthur Fellow, technology entrepreneur, and former rocket scientist, founded Benetech, Bookshare’s parent nonprofit organization. His goal in creating Bookshare was a digital library that would give blind users the freedom to read independently, be more easily included in society, and to strengthen educational and employment opportunities. “These milestones represent a giant leap forward in the number of students and individuals we serve,” said Mr. Fruchterman. “And, with the collection expanding daily, we can ensure equal access to the books our users need for education, employment, and social inclusion.”
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Bookshare is an online library of digital books for people with print disabilities. It operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law which allows copyrighted digital books to be made available to people with qualifying disabilities.
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