Agreement Will Provide More Accessible Books To People With Print Disabilities
Bookshare and HarperCollins Publishers have expanded their partnership to provide digital books for Bookshare’s accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Since 2005, HarperCollins has provided Bookshare with digital book files; it has now agreed to donate its full ebook catalog.
“We are proud to expand our partnership with Bookshare to help readers with print disabilities access HarperCollins books,” said Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers. “As technology enhances reading opportunities for people with print disabilities, we are strongly committed to providing Bookshare accessible, high-quality digital books in an efficient and timely manner.”
Bookshare believes that people with print disabilities deserve the same ease of access to books and periodicals that people without disabilities enjoy. The Bookshare library provides legal access to more than 49,000 books and 150 periodicals that are converted to Braille, large print or synthetic speech. Thanks to Bookshare, a person with a print disability can read a newspaper the same day it hits the newsstand or download a best-selling book simultaneously with its release to the public.
“HarperCollins was the first major trade publisher to support Bookshare with digital books, and they have already provided us with thousands of books for our library,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech®, the nonprofit organization that operates the Bookshare library. “This expanded partnership with HarperCollins is a great example of corporate social responsibility that will help tens of thousands of people with disabilities.”
Fewer than five percent of the books needed by people with print disabilities have typically been available in accessible formats. An award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) allows Bookshare to expand its collection through publisher partnerships and to significantly increase the number of users who have access to the service. The award also provides free access to qualified students of any age.
Bookshare members download books, textbooks and newspapers in files protected by its Digital Rights Management system to ensure the security of publishers’ copyrights. Members read the texts using adaptive technology, such as software that reads the book aloud (text-to-speech) or converts the text to an enlarged font, or hardware devices that allow the book to be read on refreshable Braille displays. Members can also convert digital books into physical embossed Braille.
Bookshare’s conversion and distribution of accessible books directly from publishers’ digital files significantly reduces the time and expense required by publishers to provide books in accessible formats for people with print disabilities.
In 2008, Bookshare was completely rebuilt with state-of-the-art web technology to make it significantly easier for people with print disabilities to access the books they want and need. The new design implements many of the current best practices for website accessibility and simplifies the process of reading digital texts.
Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. The Bookshare library is operated by Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit technology development organization. People with print disabilities include readers who are blind or have low vision, learning disabilities or a mobility impairment that prevents them from reading a traditional printed book. The Bookshare library now has more than 52,000 members. You can view video profiles of Bookshare student members Alex Clark athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwSwzeBCbq8 and Steffon Middleton athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho-y-5qzWa0.
About HarperCollins Publishers
HarperCollins, one of the largest English-language publishers in the world, is a subsidiary of News Corporation (NYSE: NWS, NWS.A; ASX: NWS, NWSLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups around the world including the HarperCollins General Books Group, HarperCollins Children’s Books Group, Zondervan, HarperCollins UK, HarperCollins Canada, HarperCollins Australia/New Zealand and HarperCollins India. HarperCollins is a broad-based publisher with strengths in literary and commercial fiction, business books, children’s books, cookbooks, mystery, romance, reference, religious and spiritual books. With nearly 200 years of history HarperCollins has published some of the world’s foremost authors and has won numerous awards including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott. Consistently at the forefront of innovation and technological advancement, HarperCollins is the first publisher to digitize its content and create a global digital warehouse to protect the rights of its authors, meet consumer demand and generate additional business opportunities. You can visit HarperCollins Publishers on the Internet at http://www.harpercollins.com.