First Partnerships with Prestigious University Presses Add Scholarly and Award-Winning Titles to Bookshare Library

By Benetech, posted on

Agreements with the University of Chicago Press, the University of California Press and New York University Press Expand Availability of Academic and General Interest Books

Three prestigious university publishers have joined the Bookshare Publisher Partner Program to provide digital books for Bookshare’s accessible online library for people with print disabilities. The University of Chicago Press, the University of California Press and New York University Press have all agreed to provide Bookshare with digital book files that will contribute thousands of new scholarly works to the Bookshare collection. Books from Nobel Prize winning authors and academic texts in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and disability studies will expand the choices available for students in higher education and readers of distinguished authors.

“People with print disabilities deserve the same ease of access to books that people without disabilities enjoy,” said Garrett Kiely, Director of the University of Chicago Press which has donated 2,600 books to Bookshare. “All of us at Chicago are proud to be collaborating with Bookshare to help make that happen, and we look forward to working with Bookshare for years to come as the technology continues to evolve and makes accessing books even easier.”

The Bookshare library provides legal access to more than 50,000 books and 150 periodicals to readers with print disabilities. 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 print publication.

“The goal of university press publishing is to bring important scholarship to the widest audience possible,” said Steve Maikowski, Director, NYU Press. “We are pleased to be participating in the Bookshare program, giving readers with print disabilities access to our books with greater ease and in a wider range of formats than ever before. Given NYU Press’s strong commitment to publishing in the field of disabilities studies, we are particularly pleased to make our books available in accessible formats.”

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.

“University presses are in a particularly key position to affect the availability of books used in college courses by people with print disabilities because a large number of university press books are required reading in college and university curricula,” said Lynne Withey, Director, University of California Press. “Our goal is to deliver all newly published titles to Bookshare to coincide with the publication of our print books and to eventually deliver a large selection of our previously published titles.”

Bookshare members download books, textbooks and newspapers in files protected by a Digital Rights Management System that protects 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 embossed Braille.

“These partnerships with university presses will significantly expand the Bookshare collection to include scholarly works,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the nonprofit organization that operates the Bookshare library. “These partnerships demonstrate that university presses firmly support equal access to educational materials that will enable Bookshare members to compete effectively in academia and the workplace and participate fully in the intellectual discussions of the day.”

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare library now has more than 60,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

About University of Chicago Press

Founded in 1891, the University of Chicago Press is the oldest and largest American university press. The Books Division publishes approximately 250 books a year and currently has more than 5,300 books in print. The Press has published over 11,000 books since its founding. The Press is further distinguished by its Journals Division, which publishes 49 journals and annuals. The Press has published the work of twenty Nobel Prize winners, including Enrico Fermi, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, Friedrich August von Hayek, Milton Friedman, George J. Stigler, Gary S. Becker, Robert W. Fogel, Ivo Andric, Jean-Paul Sartre, and J.M. Coetzee.

About New York University Press

Founded in 1916, New York University Press is a publisher primarily of academic books. NYU Press publishes in the humanities and social sciences, with specific emphasis on sociology, law, cultural and American studies, religion, American history, anthropology, politics, criminology, media and film, and psychology. The Press also publishes books on New York regional history, politics, and culture. NYU Press publishes approximately 100 new books each year, with a backlist of nearly 2,000 books in print.

About University of California Press

Founded in 1893, University of California Press is one of the largest and most adventurous scholarly publishers in the nation. The nonprofit publishing arm of the University of California system, UC Press attracts manuscripts from the world’s foremost scholars, writers, artists, and public intellectuals. Each year the Press publishes approximately 180 new books and 40 multi-issue journals in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and maintains an active backlist of over 4000 titles.