Benetech’s Bookshare technology makes reading possible for over 425,000 individuals unable to read standard print and empowers students and adults to succeed in school, work and social inclusion.
PALO ALTO, Calif. — September 20, 2016 — Benetech, the leading nonprofit empowering communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions, today announced that over 10 million accessible ebooks have been downloaded through its Bookshare initiative. Bookshare is the world’s largest online library for people who are blind, visually impaired or have a physical disability that interferes with reading, such as dyslexia.
“Access to information is a basic human right,” said Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO of Benetech. “Our Bookshare initiative is focused on using technology to make sure individuals who are unable to read standard print can exercise that right. Today’s milestone is a celebration of what is possible when technology is used for social good.”
Benetech works with over 820 publishers to collect new releases and existing books that are currently unavailable to individuals who cannot read standard print. Bookshare’s technology converts the digital files to accessible formats, including braille, audio, highlighted text and large-font text. Over 425,000 Bookshare members in 70 countries access the growing list of 460,000 titles made available by this technology. The Bookshare library is free for all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities.
“Bookshare has made a huge difference in my life,” said Brian Meersma, Bookshare member. “I started using Bookshare in middle school. The impact was amazing. I could complete assignments on my own, keep up with my classmates and really excel in school. I now attend Cornell University and help others unlock the power of Bookshare. It’s my hope that all people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia are able to use Bookshare to excel in the classroom and become lifelong learners.”
Today’s announcement is also a call to action for all content to be “Born Accessible.” Benetech is proud to provide publishers and other content creators with the tools, standards and best practices they need to build accessibility into books when they are first created. While Bookshare is the largest digital library of accessible ebooks, it is estimated that 90 percent of all books are still inaccessible to hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide who are dyslexic, blind, visually impaired or have another physical disability. Benetech is focused on ensuring all content serves everyone equally.
Benetech is a different kind of tech company. We’re a nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions. Our work has transformed how over 425,000 people with disabilities read; made it safer for human rights defenders in over fifty countries to document human rights violations; and equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world. Our Benetech Labs is working on the next big impact. Visit www.benetech.org.
Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Through its extensive collection of educational and popular titles, specialized book formats, and reading tools, Bookshare offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy. In 2007 and 2012, Bookshare received two five-year awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that develops and uses technology to create positive social change. www.bookshare.org.
Sara Gebhardt, 650-644-3452