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The Sharjah International Book Fair: Towards Accessibility without Borders

Have you ever wondered how Bookshare builds such a rich and varied collection of titles so quickly in the library? Each month, we add more than 3000 titles to engage the hearts and minds of members of all ages. We currently have 223,000+ (and counting) titles in the collection. Educational and general interest trade titles in English comprise the majority of our collection, but our goal is to bring Bookshare services to many more people with print disabilities in more geographies and languages. To that end, we’re working hard to expand partnerships with the international publishing community.

That’s where Robin Seaman, Benetech’s Director of Content Acquisition for our Global Literacy Program, steps in. Robin’s job is to engage publishers and other industry stakeholders in a deep conversation about the power of ebooks to change lives both in the U.S. and around the world.  Thanks to the generosity of publishers who grant us the rights to distribute their books internationally, people with print disabilities in nearly fifty countries around the world have access to over 100,000 of the books in our collection.

In pursuit of making Bookshare a worldwide resource, Robin travels across the country and around the world to talk with publishers from every sector of the business about making their content available through Bookshare and giving us the rights to distribute internationally.

Robin visited the Emirates Association for Visually Impaired (EAVI) at their Headquarters in Sharjah. Adel Abdullah Alzamar, Chairman of the Board (left) and Dr. Ahmed Alomran Alshamsi, Vice President (right).
Robin visited the Emirates Association for Visually Impaired (EAVI) at their Headquarters in Sharjah. Adel Abdullah Alzamar, Chairman of the Board (left) and Dr. Ahmed Alomran Alshamsi, Vice President (right).

Last November, Robin took a long flight to attend the Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates’ (U.A.E.). This prestigious book fair is organized by the U.K. Publishers Association and more than 35 countries were represented. Robin kept a journal of her travels, including wonderful photographs, and wrote about her journey on Benetech’s Blog. Robin says, “In the U.S., Benetech and many others are making excellent strides toward solving the ‘accessible book famine.’ However, we know that our work to meet the global need for accessible content has just begun. I’m excited to talk with new publishers about our Bookshare International initiative and extend an open invitation to the publishing community to join us in this quest.”

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