With great pleasure, we welcome our newest partner, Lions Club International. For almost 100 years, Lions Clubs International has sponsored programs to help people with vision loss, including restoring eyesight, better eye care, braille literacy, and access to assistive technology. Through their Reading Action Program, Lions encourages programs that support the advancement of literacy around the world. They believe literacy is tremendously important because “it forms the basis for individual academic, occupational, and social success, and can also empower communities to fight poverty, reduce child mortality, achieve gender equality, and ensure peace and democracy.”1
The Reading Action Program “is a call to action for every Lions club around the world to organize service projects and activities that underscore the importance of reading.”2 Examples of such projects include school readiness, reading aloud, students with special needs, assistive technology, and access to information.
United in this literacy mission, Bookshare is thrilled to work with Lions Clubs International as a Reading Action Program partner, to help individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. Lions is the world’s largest service organization, with 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members in more than 200 countries.
Clubs, districts, and individuals are encouraged to get involved with any of a number of service projects, such as reaching out to veterans, seniors, students, and parents to raise awareness about Bookshare. Distributing flyers is one possible activity. Clubs can also sponsor memberships for seniors, veterans, and individuals or students outside the U.S. who might not be able to afford the annual subscription fee.
For U.S. clubs, other activities might be scanning and proofreading books, or contributing image descriptions to U.S. textbooks. Imagine being visually impaired and interested in math and science, yet unable to see the images in textbooks. Contributing image descriptions provides access to academic subjects that individuals with visual impairments currently don’t have.
Bookshare especially welcomes Lions Club activities in developing countries (where books are particularly scarce and literacy levels are very low) to spread the word about Bookshare among those with print disabilities and encourage or support memberships.
Overall, any of these activities—increased access to content such as books and images, or new memberships—will be a tremendous help to individuals with print disabilities.
Thank you, Lions Clubs International, for your work supporting literacy! Bookshare is honored to be a partner in this important effort.
1- Why Reading? from Lions Club International website
2- About the Reading Action Program from Lions Club International website