Bookshare Crosses 100,000-Member Milestone

More than 60 Publishers and 2,200 Volunteers Contribute Files to Online Accessible Library

Contact:
Bookshare Media Contact:  Valerie Chernek, 410-871-2670, valerie.c@bookshare.org
Benetech Media Contact:  Ann Harrison, 415-637-5262, ann.h@benetech.org

 

July 6, 2010, Palo Alto, CA – Bookshare, the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for individuals with print disabilities, today announced a milestone event – surpassing 100,000 qualified members around the world. Bookshare’s Publisher program also crossed a substantial milestone, with more than 60 publishers from a wide range of publishing sectors agreeing to contribute digital files to Bookshare for worldwide distribution.  These files expand Bookshare’s library with current popular fiction and nonfiction titles, academic and scholarly works, textbooks, and educational materials.  

The University Partners Program also has grown substantially and now has over 20 university partners regularly contributing books scanned on local campuses to Bookshare, helping to build a collection of postsecondary textbooks for all qualified students around the United States.  This growing collection reduces the costs and redundant effort of producing accessible books on U.S. campuses.

Bookshare’s very loyal volunteers, numbering over 2,200, have contributed over 25,000 books across all genres through their dedicated scanning and proofreading efforts.  Volunteers have also applied their energy and talents to activities from engineering to outreach.

“Much credit is due to our volunteers and partners for helping us grow the collection so that we continue to attract new members and enrich their experiences; their support is critical to achieving our social mission,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of Literacy Programs at Benetech, the organization that operates Bookshare. “Our growth is gratifying, but we aren’t stopping.  Our work is not done until all published content is accessible to all individuals with print disabilities.” 

Gayle Yarnall, Director of Adaptive Products for the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA joined Bookshare in February, 2008.  “Bookshare has enabled me to pursue my favorite pastime – reading,” she said. “Imagine hearing about a new book and downloading it immediately. I can read exactly what my sighted friends are reading at the same time and take part in all those wonderful book conversations. My life and the lives of countless others are changed daily by Bookshare. I can't thank you all enough.”

Through an exemption in the U.S. copyright law, (17 U.S.C. § 121) known as the Chafee Amendment,  Bookshare serves a community of individuals with qualified print disabilities, such as visual impairments, physical disabilities or severe learning disabilities that affect reading. Proof of disability is required for membership. The library offers over 72,000 books, including K-12 textbooks, postsecondary textbooks, teacher-recommended reading, literature, children’s books, reference works, and newspapers and magazines.  Members can download books in the latest DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Ready Format) file formats. 

For access to the collection, qualified individuals of all ages are welcome to sign up for an individual membership; organizations serving qualified individuals are welcome to sign up for an organizational membership.  Publishers who wish to donate their titles to Bookshare, universities who want to join the Partners Program, and interested individuals or organizations who want to donate their time are encouraged to contact Bookshare and select the appropriate topic for their area of interest.

 

About Bookshare
Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content 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 72,000 books and serves more than 100,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit which creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

 

The content of this press release was developed under a cooperative agreement, H327K070001, with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.  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.