Friday, September 12, 2014

Advancing Reading Equality with Bookshare’s Exponential Growth

At Benetech, we always ask ourselves how our existing successful programs can reach more people who need our services and how we can apply technology in new ways to enrich and improve more lives. I’m thrilled to share with you some of the recent amazing impact of Bookshare, a Benetech Global Literacy initiative and the largest accessible online library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities.

Logo of Bookshare, a Benetech Global Literacy Initiative.
Recently Bookshare has reached two major milestones in its efforts to bring reading equality to disadvantaged populations around the world. First, Bookshare’s collection has surpassed a quarter of a million titles and, in fact, is growing so rapidly that at the time of writing this post it is almost at 300,000 titles! Thousands of ebooks are pouring into the collection each month thanks to the dedication of our volunteers around the world and partnerships with more than 500 socially responsible publishers who donate their digital files. Bookshare titles range from vocational to research to teacher-recommended reading. Popular titles are available from publishers like Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Wiley, and others, as well as more than 14,000 textbooks.

Second, Bookshare now serves well over 300,000 members with qualified print disabilities. The majority of our members are U.S. students with visual impairments, physical disabilities, and severe learning disabilities like dyslexia, but we also serve international members in nearly 50 countries and are working to extend Bookshare’s reach to veterans who need access to books and information. Bookshare also provides free reading technologies and apps for members to read the books they want in a variety of formats, including DAISY Text, DAISY Audio, Braille Ready Format, and MP3, on the device of their choice.

These milestones represent a giant leap forward in the number of students and individuals we serve. With the collection’s expanding daily, we’re well on our way to ensuring that our users have equal access to the books they need for education, employment, and social inclusion.

Many thanks to all our financial and programmatic partners, collaborators and supporters, volunteers, and, of course, to Betsy Beaumon, General Manager and Vice President of the Benetech Global Literacy Program, and the entire Global Literacy team!

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