Bookshare Celebrates Major Milestone: 100,000 Students: Exceeds Target & Serves More Students

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Bookshare®, a global leader in providing copyrighted, digital accessible books to people with print disabilities, today announced that 100,000 students now benefit from Bookshare’s collection of digital accessible books. Bookshare hit this target, a five-year goal set as part of the organization’s award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, in under three years, demonstrating the tremendous need for accessible instructional materials in flexible formats to serve students with a range of qualifying print disabilities.

Bookshare® (http://www.bookshare.org), a global leader in providing copyrighted, digital accessible books to people with print disabilities, today announced that 100,000 students now benefit from Bookshare’s collection of digital accessible books. Bookshare hit this target, a five-year goal set as part of the organization’s award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, in under three years, demonstrating the tremendous need for accessible instructional materials in flexible formats to serve students with a range of qualifying print disabilities.

Over half a million books—primarily textbooks and educational materials, as well as pleasure reading—have been downloaded from Bookshare by students and teachers. With half of those downloaded in 2010 alone, the number of books downloaded is expected to grow rapidly due to the tremendous growth in student membership.

“Bookshare’s achievement of providing 100,000 students with print disabilities access to over a half million books is laudable. Reaching their goal two years ahead of schedule deserves the highest praise,” said Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education.

Many students with print disabilities struggle to achieve academic success; however, use of digital accessible books from Bookshare can make a difference. Students with print disabilities can receive their accessible textbooks on the first day of the semester, just like every other student, and keep up with their schoolwork from the first day.

“One of the greatest advantages of the Bookshare library is equal access for students. The extensive collection of digital accessible books allows students to keep up with their peers, to read the same books, to participate in discussions, to achieve greater academic success, and to graduate on time with their class,” said Stephanie Caceres, AT Specialist/Special Education Teacher, Worcester County, Maryland. “In fact, one of my students shared, ‘Bookshare has changed my life. It has opened up a whole new world to me.’ As an educator, these are the moments that remind me why I do what I do.”

The largest library of its kind in the U.S., Bookshare adds thousands of new scanned books per month from schools, universities, the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Access Center), publishers, and volunteers. The Bookshare collection now tops over 90,000 books, including textbooks, literature, teacher-recommended reading, New York Times best sellers, and member-requested books.

“While we recognize this tremendous accomplishment, we also know that we still have many more students to reach,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of Literacy Programs for Benetech, the nonprofit organization that operates Bookshare. “Students with print disabilities should have access to the books and printed material that they need to get an education; there remain over a million students who are not yet benefiting from Bookshare. It is our continued goal to serve every qualified student in the U.S.”

Through an exemption in the U.S. copyright law, (17 U.S.C. § 121) known as the Chafee Amendment, Bookshare serves a community of individuals with qualified print disabilities, such as visual impairments, physical disabilities or severe learning disabilities that affect reading. Proof of disability is required for membership. For access to the collection, qualified individuals of all ages are welcome to sign up for an individual membership; organizations serving qualified individuals are welcome to sign up for an organizational membership.

About Bookshare
Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. In 2007, Bookshare received a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 90,000 books and serves more than 100,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit which creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

The content of this press release was developed under a cooperative agreement, H327K070001, with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Copyright © 2010 Benetech. All rights reserved. Bookshare is a Benetech initiative

http://www.bookshare.org

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