Bookshare Expands to Provide Accessible Books in India

By Benetech, posted on

Announces Partnerships with Indian Organizations that Serve Readers with Print Disabilities

Bookshare®, the world’s largest online library for people with print disabilities, has announced three new partnerships to support the availability of accessible digital texts in India. These partnerships will help International Bookshare begin to serve India’s ten million blind people, three million of whom are children. Less than 5% of these children currently have access to education.

Earlier this month, Bookshare agreed to partner with Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), located at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India. XRCVC will manage the registration of qualified Bookshare members in western India.

“One of the major initiatives for the XRCVC is creating access to the printed word for people with print disabilities,” says XRCVC Director Sam Taraporevala. “To meet this goal, XRCVC has partnered with Bookshare USA to provide its international collection for the benefit of print disabled individuals in western India.”

Bookshare began working with Indian partners in January when it finalized an agreement with Worth Trust to scan books for U.S.-based Bookshare members. In August, Bookshare concluded a second agreement with Worth Trust to support Bookshare membership administration in southern India. Worth Trust, which is based in Tamil Nadu, employs individuals with physical disabilities and provides job training to young people with disabilities.

“Our dream is to bring accessible books to every disabled person on the planet who needs them,” says Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the nonprofit organization that operates the Bookshare library. “Groups
in India are ideal partners to join with in realizing the dream of helping people with disabilities build a library to support their critical needs for education and employment.”

Bookshare has also announced a partnership with the New Delhi-based Saksham Charitable Trust to register qualified Bookshare members in northern India. Bookshare is offering access to its library at a discounted rate to Indian Members who pay Rs. 400, or the equivalent of $10, to access 4,000 English language books. This collection is growing daily thanks to Indian publishers such as Seasons Publishing and East West Publications who make their books accessible through the Bookshare library. Bookshare is also partnering with the Daisy Forum of India to encourage more publishers to contribute their books to its online collection.

“Bookshare is more than just a project, it is a unique and ground
breaking concept,” says Indian Bookshare member Dipendra Manocha who serves as president of the DAISY Forum of India and Developing Countries Coordinator in the DAISY Consortium. “I am happy that this partnership between DAISY Forum of India and Bookshare is paving the way to bring the DAISY and other accessible reading formats to the people who are blind or have a print disability in India.”

Benetech’s International Bookshare library is supported by the Bernard A. Newcomb Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The Lavelle Fund for the Blind has also funded development of the Bookshare collection through a partnership with the Worth Trust.

About Bookshare

Bookshare is operated by Benetech, a Palo Alto CA-based nonprofit technology development organization. Originally built by a community of volunteers, the Bookshare library offers people with print disabilities more than 40,000 books and periodicals in accessible formats including Braille, large print or digital text to speech audio. People with print disabilities include readers who are blind, those with low vision, severe dyslexia or a mobility impairment that prevents them from reading a traditional printed book.