Today we are celebrating an exciting milestone for impact at Benetech: we have delivered 15 million books to people with reading barriers through the Bookshare online library service and network. That’s 15 million books that users found and accessed through Bookshare that they would not otherwise have been able to read. And it’s not just about the number of books, but what these books enable people to do: pursue an education, develop professional skills, find employment, and participate in their communities. We’d like to celebrate and thank the entire community that has made this momentous milestone possible.
To Bookshare’s Community of Readers
This is about you. A celebration of all of the books that you’ve read. In school, you used Bookshare to learn about new subjects, attain reading proficiency, and advance confidently into the next grade. You used this knowledge from books to conduct research and stay current in your field, participate in book clubs, make the dean’s list, geek out with your friends over Harry Potter, pursue your dream jobs, and learn about the world. Thank you for trusting and supporting Bookshare. Today, we celebrate all of the books that you’ve read with us, and challenge you to keep reading. With the knowledge from books, you can achieve exceptional things.
To the Parents and Teachers
You remove barriers to reading for learners by providing the technology, support, and coaching that enables them to read their way. You advocate for students and teach them to advocate for themselves, convincing the skeptics who perceive these barriers as insurmountable. You go the extra mile, exploring the special collections and downloading just the right book to capture the heart of your most reluctant reader. Thank you for everything that you do to help children develop the confidence and skills to become independent, lifelong learners.
To Our Technology Partners
You make it possible for Bookshare users to read their way, on the device of their choice, be it computers, Chromebooks, braille readers, assistive technology devices, or tablets and smartphones on Android and iOS. With your tools, our users can truly customize their reading experiences. From expanded voice options, to custom highlighting, notetaking, and color schemes, your innovations make the user experience delightful. Thank you for making it easy for Bookshare users to read in ways that work for them.
To Our Volunteers
There is no Bookshare without books. From Bookshare’s launch, you have played an integral role in ensuring that any book that a community member wants can be made available on Bookshare by scanning and proofreading texts that are not made available to us digitally. You make wishes come true, by adding requested books from the Bookshare wish list of pleasure reads that Bookshare members wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Thank you for your invaluable support, and generosity of time and energy.
To Our Publisher Partners
By sharing digital book files directly with Bookshare, you have enabled us to greatly increase the collection of books available to people with reading barriers. Today our users are able to choose from over four million options of what and how (audio, braille, text highlighting + audio, large font) they want to read, and our collection continues to grow as more books are published. Because of our relationship with you, books are available on Bookshare the very same day that they are released. We’re so thankful for your generosity and partnership.
To Our Global Partners
Thank you to our many business and NGO partners around the world that are helping to spread the word about Bookshare and increase access to books for people with reading barriers in their countries. To our Global library partners, we thank you for your collaboration. Whether you are helping your members to join Bookshare, or leveraging Bookshare technology to power your own library, we are all united in our mission to spread literacy and increase access to books for people with reading barriers around the globe.
To Our Employees
To Benetech and Bookshare colleagues present and past – thank you for the hours of tireless effort, the sacrifices you make for our shared mission, and the passion that you put into your job. You are the core of Benetech, our heart and soul. Without each of you coming together to form such an incredibly talented team, we couldn’t do what we do.
To Our Funders
Thank you for believing in and supporting our mission. You are removing barriers to inclusion for Bookshare users, and some have shared the impact that access to information through books has had on their lives:
“I remember thinking that I would never learn how to read, but Bookshare put me in my own world, and I found out that this is how everybody feels when they read.” —Emery Lower, sixth grade student
“Having access to content through Bookshare has a greater value beyond information from books. It means having choices and exercising control to read what I want, when I want, and in the format that I want. Digital empowerment and access to books enables people with disabilities to pursue their education, find meaningful employment, and, ultimately, achieve greater inclusion and independence in their communities.” – Moses Chowdari Gorrepati, EnAble India
“Through audiobooks I have finally discovered that I am worth it. I’m capable of being successful and being a powerful creator in my community. Those of us with disabilities have gifts – gifts when matched with the right tools, like audiobooks, can help us do amazing things. ” —Justin Novello, South Carolina
A Call to Action
Moses, Emery, and Justin have all enjoyed the independence to read and learn in ways that work for them, but there are still so many people around the world who do not have access to books that they can read. With your support, we are continuing to grow the network, add more books and more languages, and, most importantly, reach more people.
We won’t stop until every person is able to read the books that they need to be successful in a way that works for them. Thank you for accompanying us on this journey so far, and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with you in the future.