People with reading barriers face numerous challenges. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, 90% of whom live in developing countries. An even higher number of people have dyslexia or a language-based learning disability that makes it difficult or impossible to read printed text. UNESCO has reported that if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, equivalent to a 12% cut in world poverty.
Bookshare® is an ebook library that makes reading easier. Members can access a huge collection of ebooks and read their way with the most customizable ebooks for people with reading barriers. See how Bookshare ebooks work.
The library has 1,240,273 titles and is the most extensive collection of accessible ebooks in the world. It includes books for school, career, and reading pleasure, as well as titles in over 34 languages. The collection is supported by a dedicated volunteer community and partnerships with over 1000 US and international publishers.
Bookshare operates in the U.S. under a copyright exemption—the Chafee Amendment—which grants nonprofit organizations the ability to make books available to people with print disabilities without publisher permission. Bookshare receives publisher permission to provide books to members outside the U.S.
Thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare is free for all qualified U.S. students and schools. Bookshare’s current funding award from the Department of Education is also referred to as the BUILD (Benetech Unlocks Individualized Learning Delivery) Center. Qualified individuals who are not students pay a nominal annual fee for their membership, including reduced fees in some countries outside the U.S. Learn about membership fees.
Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a nonprofit that empowers communities with software for social good.