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Benetech Announces Partnership with RNIB and Publication of BISG Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing

Today, at the 31st Annual CSUN Conference in San Diego, Benetech is excited to announce the launch of two major efforts in the areas of literacy and disabilities.

Launch of RNIB Bookshare

The first is the groundbreaking partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) that will dramatically expand access to Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. The new online service, called RNIB Bookshare, will deliver accessible materials to schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and will provide curriculum materials for blind or partially-sighted, dyslexic, or otherwise print-disabled students. It offers an independent learning experience, allowing members to read books in ways that work for them – audio, large print, braille, and more – while enabling learners to read the same books at the same time as their classmates.

Green logo with RNIB and BookshareNeil Heslop, Managing Director, RNIB Solutions, said: “We are delighted to be working with Benetech. This partnership offers the potential to reach every student in the UK that struggles with standard print. It is so important that learners are able to access the books and textbooks they need when they need them.”

The new platform replaces Load2Learn, a similar service run by RNIB since 2012, and offers an increased number of titles (over 220,000) as well as new features such as reading apps and reading lists. It will be available beginning March 29, 2016.

RNIB Bookshare represents what Benetech hopes is the first of many similar partnerships that leverage a “white label” Bookshare platform to bring the online library of accessible ebooks to many more people with disabilities worldwide.

Book Industry Study Group Releases Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing

In partnership with the Book Industry Study Group, Benetech is pleased to announce our participation in the release of the Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing. This guide shares best practices around accessibility developed in collaboration with seventeen organizations, including international standards organizations such as DAISY, platform providers such as VitalSource, and publishing companies such as Pearson, Wiley, Hachette, and HarperCollins. It addresses why and how to create, distribute, and display accessible digital content. The guide is provided for free and can be downloaded by all.

According to Robin Seaman, Chair of the BISG Accessible Publishing Working Group and Director of Book Industry Study Group logoContent at Benetech, “The work of this groundbreaking document represents an extraordinary year-long collaboration of over twenty-five leaders across the publishing ecosystem.  It addresses one of the most daunting technical challenges in digital publishing and one of the least understood social challenges facing education and literacy today: how do we create content in such a way that every reader has equal access to information?  As we see daily in such ubiquitous conveniences as curb cuts, closed captioning in sports bars, and Siri — all of which make the world ‘accessible’ for people with disabilities — the push to ensure that every book is ‘born accessible’ stands to revolutionize the way content will be consumed by us all.”

This is a critical and hopeful time, when technology and massive industry shifts are mitigating the constant catch-up effort that currently limits access and requires so much extra work to create accessible content. With BISG’s Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing, publishers will discover an invaluable resource. When all digital content is also “born accessible,” Benetech’s dream of equal access to information for everyone will be a reality.

Download the guide now. It is available in EPUB3 format as well as in Spanish, French, German, and Italian (and soon in Korean).

To learn more about both of these exciting launches, stop by Benetech’s booth #621/623 or Pearson’s booth #713A/B at the CSUN Conference this week or contact us for more information.

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