Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman to Speak at National Press Club, Washington D.C. on Bookshare Partnerships with Universities and Publishers

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Mr. Fruchterman will announce multiple partnerships with U.S. colleges, universities and publishers to build collection of digital accessible books and textbooks in support of individuals and K-12 and post-secondary students with qualified print disabilities.

Benetech CEO, Jim Fruchterman, has been invited to speak at the National Press Club about Bookshare's leadership role in global initiatives that increase the availability of accessible published materials for individuals with print disabilities. The event will take place on April 29, at 10 am in the Zenger Room of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and is open to members of the press.

Bookshare, which is operated by Benetech, is the world's largest online library of accessible books and periodicals for people who are blind, have low vision, a physical disability or a reading disability that prevents them from easily reading a traditional printed book. The event will include a panel discussion featuring representatives from Bookshare's university partners, a university student, and potential representatives from the U.S. government and the publishing community.

During the event, Fruchterman will announce Bookshare's University Partnership Program in which universities throughout the U.S. are joining together to increase the collection of accessible post-secondary textbooks available for students with print disabilities. Fruchterman will also announce Bookshare's many new partnerships with major publishers who have agreed to donate digital files to Bookshare for qualified individuals to download.

Panelists 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. Eugene Skonicki, a student member of the Bookshare library, will join the panel. Skonicki co-founded the disability law group at Georgetown University Law School and uses books from the Bookshare library for his studies. Both Marks and Skonicki are blind. Other members of the disability community and policy makers are also expected to attend the event.

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 over 1000 books per month with contributions from publishers, universities, downloads from the NIMAC (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 over 100,000 books by 2012.

About Bookshare

Bookshare (http://www.bookshare.org) provides accessible books and periodicals to a worldwide community of people with qualified print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility to ensure that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to published materials as people without disabilities Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech (http://www.benetech.org) a nonprofit organization that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

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