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Accessible Publications for Individuals with Print Disabilities

Author: Benetech

Published: 2009-04-25 : (Rev. 2011-11-30)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Publishers to increase accessible materials for individuals with print disabilities.

Main Digest

National Press Club to Host 'NEWSMAKER' Media Briefing: Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman to Announce New Partnerships with Universities, Publishers to Increase Accessible Materials for Individuals with Print Disabilities.

Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman will announce new partnerships with universities and publishers that will substantially increase the availability of accessible print materials for individuals with print disabilities at a National Press Club Newsmaker press conference at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, in the Zenger Room, 529, 14th St., N.W., 13th floor.

The initiatives will help millions of individuals around the world who are blind, have low vision, a physical or a reading disability that prevents them from easily reading a traditional printed book. Typically, less than 5 percent of printed books are available in accessible formats.

Other speakers will include Jim Marks, president-elect of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and director of Disability Services at the University of Montana at Missoula, and Bookshare student member Eugene Skonicki, co-founder of the disability law group at Georgetown University Law School.

Bookshare's new University Partnership Program is uniting universities throughout the United States to increase the collection of accessible post-secondary textbooks. Typically, hundreds of thousands of U.S. post-secondary students with print disabilities wait months after the start of a semester before getting their textbooks in a format they can read.

Each year, university personnel engage in a labor intensive process at the beginning of a term to scan books or obtain digital files from publishers to provide accessible text books. Bookshare and its university partners are pooling their scanned books to reduce duplication of effort and ensure equal educational opportunity.

Fruchterman also will announce Bookshare's new partnerships with major publishers, such as HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Scholastic, who have agreed to donate digital files of their books to Bookshare.

Benetech (www.benetech.org), a Palo Alto, California-based nonprofit organization, operates the Bookshare library.

In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education (OSEP) to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability.

The Bookshare collection now includes more than 46,000 titles and is growing at a rate of more than 1000 books per month, with contributions from publishers, universities, downloads from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center, and books scanned and contributed by volunteers. The Bookshare library, which has more than 52,000 members, is expected to increase to more than 100,000 books by 2012.

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