Encyclopaedia Britannica Grants Digital Rights to Bookshare

Major Reference Collections Now Accessible for Individuals with Print Disabilities Worldwide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Tom Panelas, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. - 312-347-7309, tpanelas@eb.com
Ann Harrison, Benetech - 415-637-5262, ann.h@benetech.org
Valerie C. Chernek, Bookshare - 410-871-2670, valerie.c@bookshare.org

October 8, 2009, Chicago, IL and Palo Alto, CA – Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., today announced an agreement with Bookshare to grant worldwide digital rights to its major reference collections. Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. These collections will add a wealth of academic resources to Bookshare that will enhance the research experience and independent study for tens of thousands of Bookshare members, many of whom are U.S. K-12 and postsecondary students.

“Through Bookshare, we can enrich the learning environment for students who have not had digital access to important need-to-know reference works,” said Michael Ross, senior VP of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., and general manager of its education division. “Converting our encyclopedias and books into accessible formats will open a new world of information-rich resources for students to gain knowledge and research important facts.” 

The agreement will allow Bookshare to convert these fifty reference volumes from seven series into the latest DAISY 3.0 format (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Ready Format):

Each Britannica series is expertly written to cover a wide range of curriculum-related subjects.  The contents are organized for easy navigation so readers can browse a topic or subject area to find information quickly.  Many of the books include short stories and ‘Did You Know’ facts to stimulate students’ interests by grade level and age-appropriate content.  For added learning support, mini-guides and glossaries provide vocabulary and definitions.

“Today we celebrate a leading academic publisher expressing their social responsibility and commitment to serve the education and the disability communities,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the nonprofit organization that operates Bookshare.  “Worldwide digital rights to these major reference collections will ensure that Bookshare members globally have access to highly-regarded, authoritative resource books from Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities.  Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities.  In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability.  The Bookshare library now has over 50,000 books and serves more than 60,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.  Bookshare offers a variety of membership options for schools, organizations, qualified students and individuals.  Publishers interested in contributing to the Bookshare library should contact Robin Seaman, Publisher Liaison.  View a list of partnering publishers.

About Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a leader in reference and education publishing whose products can be found across all media, from the Internet to wireless devices to books. A pioneer in electronic publishing since the early 1980s, the company still publishes the 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, along with services such as Britannica Online School Edition and new printed products such as Britannica Illustrated Science Library. Britannica’s editorial operation is overseen by some of the world’s most distinguished scholars. The company is headquartered in Chicago.

The content of this Press Release was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.  However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.