New partnerships, national outreach, and local language interfaces across global north and global south enable inclusive access to education and information
PALO ALTO, Calif., May 16, 2019 — Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, today announced a major expansion in the organization’s inclusive education initiatives to provide access to ebooks for people with reading barriers worldwide. New partnerships include organizations such as Vision Australia, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the UK, National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI), Canada’s Center for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the Dubai government. Through this collaboration, Benetech is establishing accessible libraries, powered by Bookshare technology that enable inclusive access to information. Upon the launch of these new libraries, Bookshare, the world’s largest collection of accessible ebooks, will have over one million accessible books under management.
This announcement comes on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day dedicated to digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people worldwide with disabilities and impairments. With features such as searchable text, synchronized text and audio, highlighting, and customizable font size and contrast, Bookshare’s digital ebooks give people with reading barriers like visual impairments, dyslexia, or a physical disability like cerebral palsy, new opportunities for learning and literacy.
“Accessing print material can be a challenge for people who are blind or have low vision or live with any other print disability, so it’s always exciting when we have the opportunity to expand what our members have access to,” said David Speyer, general manager of commercial and national services at Vision Australia.
In addition to increasing access to information through this growing network of global libraries, Benetech is also expanding Bookshare national partnerships, membership work and local language interfaces in Africa and South Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Kenya. Under the Marrakesh Treaty, which enables the sharing of accessible books across 82 countries and recently came into effect in the United States, over 90,000 books from Bookshare’s huge collection that were previously unavailable due to geographic restriction can now be shared across borders.
“eKitabu is thrilled to join Benetech in celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day given their work to champion the Marrakesh VIP Treaty globally, increasing access to learning materials for people with print disabilities worldwide and bringing us closer to inclusive and quality education for all,” said Matthew Utterback, co-founder, eKitabu, a provider of accessible digital content, software and innovative programs for education in Africa.
“We envision a future where every person has the opportunity to read and learn,” said Brad Turner, Benetech vice president and general manager, global education and literacy. “As the Marrakesh Treaty is ratified by more countries, the global impact of this network of accessible libraries will continue to grow. The movement of books across borders, facilitated by Bookshare’s powerful technology infrastructure, enables inclusive access to information regardless of geography or ability.”
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Benetech is a nonprofit that empowers communities with software for social good. Benetech’s work transforms how people with disabilities read and learn, enables human rights defenders and civilians to pursue truth and justice, and connects people to the services they need to live and prosper. Benetech is constantly pursuing the next big social impact. Visit www.benetech.org.
Bookshare, a Benetech initiative, makes reading easier with the world’s largest ebook library for people with reading barriers. Members can access over 700,000 titles and read their way with specialized formats that enable users to customize their reading experience. Bookshare has delivered over 14 million ebooks in 47 languages to more than 650,000 members worldwide. Visit www.bookshare.org