Bookshare Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary at Google
|Betsy Beaumon, Benetech VP and General Manager of Bookshare|
During the party we had a surprise video message from Stevie Wonder, a long-time Bookshare member who told us that he is using Read2Go to read accessible books from the Bookshare library. “I can feel it all over, it’s a hit!” said Stevie. Thanks Stevie! We think so too.
|T.V. Raman (and Tilden)|
T.V. Raman of Google Research, a long-time Bookshare member and advisor, was on hand to help us celebrate last night. T.V. noted that Bookshare pioneered the delivery of low cost, accessible books for people with disabilities, and he looked forward to Bookshare’s 20th anniversary party when we would be demoing the next generation of this technology. Bookshare was one of the early recipients of a Google Grant of online advertising, which continues to this day. This summer, we will have three students working on Bookshare software for our users underwritten by Google’s Summer of Code program.
Bookshare has always attracted people who want to revolutionize how printed material is made available to people with disabilities who cannot read traditional books. Our vision is to provide equal opportunities for students with disabilities and help them overcome a major barrier to accessing to the most valuable prize in society: a great education.
Visionary funders who have supported this radical idea from the start attended our party last night including members of our board. Board members Gerry Davis, Jim Kleckner, Leighton Read, Brian Behlendorf, Christy Chin and Rob Wexler have provided wise counsel that has steered Bookshare’s success.
|Jim Fruchterman and Marcia Adler|
Bookshare Exceeds All Expectations
The idea for Bookshare came to me when my then-teenaged-son Jimmy, who also attended last night’s party, brought home Napster. Jimmy had discovered Napster at the home of my neighbor, Eileen Richardson, who was then the acting CEO of Napster. Napster made me think of how peer-to-peer information sharing could help people with disabilities. I figured that if one Bookshare user thought a book was worth scanning, then that book was worth sharing with people around the US who also had print disabilities.
|Kristina Pappas and Rob Turner from Bookshare|
Bookshare has grown tremendously from the 3,000 students that we were serving in 2007. A little over 4 years ago, we won a competitive contract award from the US Department of Education which took a bold risk on Bookshare. With this support, we began reaching out to students, teachers and schools throughout the U.S., and that risk paid off. By this September, we will be serving over 200,000 students with print disabilities in the US, twice the number that we promised the Department of Education we would reach by this date. By September, we’ll also have added more than 100k educational titles and achieved more than 3 million total downloads, delivering books for less than one tenth of the cost of traditional approaches.
It was great to be able to celebrate the Bookshare team, and the users who created this tremendous library, with the help of Google, our many friends in the area, and Stevie Wonder!
[Photo credits: Patrick Ball]