Mission

People with print disabilities deserve to enjoy reading as much as all other readers. Yet, currently fewer than five percent of the books needed by people with print disabilities are available in accessible formats such as digital text or digital Braille.

Bookshare®'s goal is to raise the floor of access so that people with print disabilities can obtain a broad spectrum of print materials at the same time as everyone else.

People with visual impairments, physical disabilities and/or learning disabilities can look to Bookshare to dramatically increase the quantity and timely availability of books and newspapers in accessible formats. Further, Bookshare’s vision encompasses new technological developments as well as new applications of widely available technologies to stretch the power of technology for increased access to content.

Bookshare is diligently working toward this goal by:

  • Building the Bookshare digital library as rapidly as possible through Volunteers, partnerships, and publishers.
  • Spreading the word so that everyone who is eligible to join Bookshare has the opportunity to do so.
  • Expanding the choices of access technology available for people with print disabilities. Bookshare is leveraging new technological developments that make reading digital books easier.

History

Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech®, a nonprofit organization that combines the power of the human mind with a deep passion for social improvement. It addresses the needs of underserved communities with innovative technology solutions.

Benetech grew out of Jim Fruchterman's early work with reading machines for the blind. Arkenstone became the world leader in reading machines. When Arkenstone’s business assets were later sold to Freedom Scientific, the resulting capital was used to start new projects under the new name of Benetech.

Bookshare, Benetech’s first project, focuses on the challenge of access to reading materials for people with print disabilities. For sighted people, technology makes access to information easier; for people who are blind, it makes access possible. With Bookshare, a person with print disabilities can read a newspaper the same day it hits the newsstand or a best-selling book online as soon as it is released.