Bookshare Reaches a Milestone, 10 Million Accessible Ebooks Downloaded
Benetech today announced that over 10 million accessible ebooks have been downloaded through its Bookshare initiative.
Bookshare is the world’s largest online library for people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability that interferes with reading, such as dyslexia.
Benetech works with over 820 publishers to collect new releases and existing books that are currently unavailable to individuals who cannot read standard print. Bookshare’s technology converts the digital files to accessible formats, including braille, audio, highlighted text and large-font text. Over 425,000 Bookshare members in 70 countries access the growing list of 460,000 titles made available by this technology. The Bookshare library is free for all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities.
Today’s announcement is also a call to action for all content to be “Born Accessible.” Benetech is proud to provide publishers and other content creators with the tools, standards and best practices they need to build accessibility into books when they are first created. While Bookshare is the largest digital library of accessible ebooks, it is estimated that 90 percent of all books are still inaccessible to hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide who are dyslexic, blind, visually impaired or have another physical disability. Benetech is focused on ensuring all content serves everyone equally.
Today’s milestone is worth celebrating, but like any good social entrepreneur, I’m focused on what’s next. What innovation needs to take place so the hundreds of millions of individuals who are unable to read standard print can access every published book? How can we realize our Born Accessible dream of all digital content serving blind people and sighted people equally? What investments can we make today in order to have the greatest impact tomorrow? Finding answers to these hard questions through scalable technology solutions is what motivates me and the entire Benetech team.
Bookshare’s success provides a proven model for answering these questions. First, we must identify technology-driven solutions that will be 10x better or 10x cheaper (or both!) in delivering social impact. Next, we must engage our communities to test prototypes and to separate the good ideas from the truly great ideas. We will then take the best projects, inject the needed capital and scale them for global impact. The Bookshare model guided us to our 10 million milestone, and it’s a key model that will guide us to identify, develop and scale technology to tackle the hard questions we ask ourselves every day.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.