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Bookshare (Still) Needs Your Support

Ask your Members of Congress to approve funding so Bookshare can continue to offer free, accessible ebooks to U.S. students with disabilities.

By Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO, Benetech

Bookshare funding remains in jeopardy as Congress continues to consider the budget for both the 2017 Bookshare, A Benetech Initiative, logo and 2018 fiscal years. We urgently need your help to ensure that Bookshare’s federal funding is not eliminated. For those of you who contacted your Members of Congress last fall and urged them to support Bookshare funding, we thank you for your efforts and dedication to date, but we need your help by writing to Congress again.

We urge you all to send a letter to your senators and representative.

We encourage you to personalize these letters by including information about the impact Bookshare has had on you, in your school, or for your child. This is a critical time for Bookshare, and your help is essential to ensure that the program will continue.

Bookshare Funding Recap

Paloma reads an accessible ebook from the Bookshare library on her iPad
Paloma, a student with dyslexia, reads an accessible ebook from the Bookshare library on her iPad

Last fall, the House of Representatives proposed an FY2017 funding bill that would, in effect, defund Bookshare. In recent months, we have worked with Bookshare supporters in specifically targeted states and districts to advocate for the program that provides funding for Bookshare, known as the Educational Technology, Media, and Materials Program. Last December, the House of Representatives approved a short-term spending bill, known as a Continuing Resolution, which funded the government at current levels through April 28, 2017.

The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee is currently considering the funding decisions for this program for both FY2018 and the remainder of FY2017, so now is a critical time to show your support for Bookshare. Letters by Representative John Yarmuth and Senator Chris Murphy are being circulated in their respective chambers in support of the Educational Technology, Media, and Materials Program that helps to fund Bookshare. I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with several members of the Bookshare team and met with key members of Congress and urged them to vote to approve the funding.

Bookshare is Indispensable for Students like Veronica

Veronica, a college student in Virginia, has low vision and is unable to read standard printed books. She shared her experience as a Bookshare member in a letter to her local representative:Veronica, a college student with low vision, has been a Bookshare member since 2011.

I have been using Bookshare since 2011 and it has dramatically changed the way I read. Once I got Bookshare, I could carry my books around on an eReader or tablet and download a book almost instantly. I started reading more and was able to join more discussions in class. Education is invaluable, and with accessible materials, more students are able to learn and pursue higher-level education, enter the workforce, and contribute to society. By making these books accessible through Bookshare, students can thrive in the educational environment.

From all of us at Benetech and Bookshare, thank you for your continued and vital support.

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