Nonprofit empowers people to pursue education and employment through inclusive access to information
PALO ALTO, CALIF., September 25, 2019 — Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, today announced that 15 million ebooks have been accessed by people with reading barriers through its Bookshare initiative. Bookshare is the world’s largest online provider of accessible books for people with reading barriers such as cerebral palsy, dyslexia, or visual impairment. Accessing these books through Bookshare’s technology has enabled over 700,000 people with reading barriers worldwide to further their education, develop professional skills, and engage more fully in their communities.
Access to information is a universal human right, but the World Blind Union estimates that over 90% of all written texts are inaccessible to people with disabilities. Benetech is committed to ensuring that disability is not a barrier to accessing information by providing over 750,000 books in multiple accessible formats, including text-to-speech and braille, for a total of over four million reading options that readers can choose from.
“Having access to content through Bookshare has a greater value beyond information from books. It means having choices and exercising control to read what I want, when I want, and in the format that I want,” said Moses Chowdari Gorrepati, Bookshare user and Program Manager-Head of EnAble Vision at EnAble India. “Digital empowerment and access to books enables people with disabilities to pursue their education, find meaningful employment, and, ultimately, achieve greater inclusion and independence in their communities.”
Benetech’s pace of global impact continues to accelerate through the expansion of its network of global libraries. This growth includes new partnerships with local organizations to expand access to information in Bangladesh, Canada, Dubai, India, Ireland, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom. The Bookshare initiative currently operates in 88 countries and supports 49 different languages. Today’s milestone comes on the heels of 10 million books delivered, announced in 2016. The nonprofit is on track to see over 20 million books delivered by 2022.
Benetech’s huge collection of accessible ebooks comes primarily from over 900 publisher partners who provide digital copies of books to be transformed into accessible content and added directly to Benetech’s Bookshare collection. These publisher partnerships dramatically reduce the time and cost required to add books to Bookshare’s collection, meaning Bookshare users are often able to download new releases the same day that they are available in stores.
It is this level of equal access to information that Benetech seeks to advance through our Born Accessible initiative and Global Certified Accessible program. To further increase the availability of accessible books and materials, Benetech works with publishers to certify that all ebooks published are created with accessibility features such as image descriptions built into the product, making that same book as accessible for those with print barriers as to those without.
“From students using Bookshare’s textbooks, to professionals downloading titles relevant to their field of work, to seniors selecting books to read for their local book club, accessible ebooks enable people with reading barriers to pursue their interests and achieve their goals,” said Brad Turner, Benetech VP and GM Global Education and Literacy. “We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone of 15 million books delivered, and we will continue with our mission until every person is able to read the books that they need to be successful in ways that work for them.”
To learn more about Benetech’s inclusive education initiatives, visit: https://benetech.org/work-area/education/
For publishers interested in partnering with Bookshare, visit: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/partners/publishers
For more information on becoming a Global Certified Accessible publisher, visit: https://benetech.org/our-work/born-accessible/certification/
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 750,000 titles and read their way with specialized formats that enable users to customize their reading experience. Bookshare has delivered over 15 million ebooks, supported in 49 different languages to more than 700,000 members worldwide. Visit www.bookshare.org.