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Assistive Technology Center in Qatar Partners with Bookshare

Mada Center in Qatar
Group of people who work at and use the services of Mada

500 Qatari Citizens Gain Access to World’s Largest Accessible Collection of Copyrighted Content

People with disabilities in Qatar now have a place where they can fully develop their potential thanks to Mada (the Qatar Assistive Technology Center) which has been working to connect people to the technology that will improve their lives.

Mada recently announced a partnership with Bookshare to provide 500 individuals with print disabilities in Qatar access to over 13,000 accessible English-language books in Bookshare. The center will give anyone with a qualifying print disability who wishes to join Bookshare a one-year membership allowing them to download and read any number of Bookshare books.  A print disability is a disability that makes it very difficult or impossible to read standard print, such as blindness or low vision, a severe learning disability that affects reading, like severe dyslexia, or other physical disabilities in which an individual cannot hold a book or turn the pages of a book. While there are over 90,000 books in the Bookshare collection, currently only 13,000 have been made available globally. Books available in Qatar include some of the latest bestsellers as well as classic works of literature, reference works, and books for children.

Mada Director Faleh Al-Naemi described the new initiative as “an important step ensuring that all disabled people are connected to the information they need to progress in life through employment, education and daily living.  The example set by Bookshare and Mada sets a benchmark for progress in ensuring that digital content in all forms is accessible to everyone.”

The ebooks available from Bookshare are downloaded in DAISY 3.0, (Digital Talking Book format (dtb) or BRF (Braille Ready Format). DAISY is a text-based format that can be combined with computer-generated audio and viewed on a computer or on a portable assistive reading device. With choices of software or devices, people with qualifying disabilities can read anytime or anywhere.

For many, reading is one of the great pleasures on earth. This is no different for people with print disabilities, and for those who developed print disabilities later in life, the ability to read again is a joy they find hard to describe. The availability of Mada and Bookshare memberships will mean that immediately 500 people in Qatar will have access to the same books, periodicals, and knowledge as everyone else in society.

Mada Deputy Director David Banes said, “This initiative is the first step in an ambitious plan to see not only English books available through Bookshare but also significant numbers of Arabic e-books. This project will have a tremendous impact in Qatar and in addition will expand to many other Arabic-speaking people with disabilities from across the world.”

When asked about the partnership, Jim Fruchterman CEO of Benetech, the non-profit that operates Bookshare, said, “The Qatari initiative is a real commitment to an inclusive society. In partnering with Bookshare, Qatar has laid down a challenge to other countries to join a growing global community committed to serving the needs of individuals with disabilities.”

We celebrate and welcome our newest Bookshare members from Qatar!

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