Tracy R. Justesen, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Reviews the Expansion of Bookshare.org
A prominent U.S. Department of Education official who guides key policy decisions that impact people with disabilities will visit Palo Alto this week to discuss Benetech’s® Bookshare.org library. Tracy R. Justesen, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will review the recent expansion of Bookshare.org to serve all students with print disabilities in the United States.
Justesen serves as a principal adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings on special education, vocational rehabilitation and disability and rehabilitation research. Justesen heads the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) which implements a wide range of federal programs in these areas. OSERS focuses on improving access to special education programs and services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
In 2007, Bookshare.org received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, which is part of OSERS, to significantly expand the availability of accessible digital books. The award provides all students in the U.S. with qualifying print disabilities, regardless of age, access to the Bookshare.org library without charge. Bookshare.org staff, which has expanded to meet this demand, is adding 1,000 books and textbooks a month to the library.
Bookshare.org is operated by Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit technology development organization. Bookshare.org offers people with print disabilities more than 42,000 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.