Announcing the Blind SA Bookshare Library

By Julianna Wright, posted on

Announcing the Blind SA Bookshare library. A woman listens to an audiobook sitting outside.

We are pleased to announce that Benetech is partnering with Blind SA to establish the Blind SA Bookshare library, a free library of accessible ebooks for South Africans with reading barriers.

The full release from Blind SA is below, and more information can be found on Blind SA’s website.

Learn more about Bookshare’s global partnership opportunities.

Blind SA Partners with Benetech to Launch Blind SA Bookshare Library

Nonprofits team up to bring equal access to books for South Africans with reading barriers. 

Blind SA has signed a partnership with US Based nonprofit, Benetech, to establish a free library of accessible ebooks for blind and low-vision South Africans, as well as those with print disability. Members will have access to more than half a million unique titles in 5 accessible formats, totaling to more than 2.5 million reading options.

Books are keys to learning, however more than 99.5% of knowledge is locked in the printed form for more than hundreds of thousands of South Africans who are blind and visually impaired, this means that they cannot access the books that they need for school, work, civic engagement, or leisure. Through the Blind SA Bookshare library, South Africans with disabilities will be able to access reading materials in accessible formats at the same time as their non-disabled peers.

“This is a matter of equity,” said Jace Nair, CEO of Blind SA. “We are establishing the Blind SA Bookshare library so that Blind and Visually Impaired South Africans can pursue education and participate actively in social, cultural, political, civic and economic life of South Africa”.

Operated by Blind SA and powered by Benetech’s global Bookshare platform, access is available to all South Africans with a qualifying reading barrier. Users will be able to browse the collection and download books in their preferred format, customizing the reading experience to meet their preferences.

With options such as audio, large print, synchronized text-to-speech with word-highlighting, and electronic braille, library members will be able to read using virtually any device that they choose, including laptops, tablets, Android and iOS smartphones, low-cost MP3 and DAISY players, and assistive technology devices.

Benetech Vice President and GM Global Education and Literacy, Brad Turner, said, “All people should have the opportunity to read and learn in ways that work for them. Through our partnership with Blind SA, South Africans with reading barriers will soon have near instant access to the books that they want to read, in the formats that they need to read them on a device that they already own.”

A project team consisting of Blind SA and Benetech staff are currently working on the design and implementation of the new platform, which will be launched on 26th October 2020, to launch with Blind SA’s 75th anniversary celebration year marked for 2021.

Interested in finding out more about how you can sign up for the Blind SA Bookshare Library?

Send an email to : bookshare.membership@blindsa.org.za

About Benetech

Benetech is a nonprofit that empowers communities with software for social good. Our work transforms how people with disabilities read and learn, makes it safer for human rights defenders to pursue truth and justice, and connects people to the services they need to live and prosper. We’re constantly pursuing the next big social impact. Visit www.benetech.org.

About Blind SA

Blind SA is a National Disable People’s Organisation registered as an NPO which provides projects and programmes to empower blind and partially sighted people in South Africa. Blind SA advocates for the basic human rights and access to services for blind and partially sighted people.