Bookshare marks decade of accessible digital books

Bookshare announced its 10th anniversary of providing accessible digital books for individuals with print disabilities.

Jim Fruchterman, the CEO and founder of the nonprofit Benetech, the parent organization of Bookshare, envisioned a library of eBooks formed by volunteers who would digitize and legally share books over the Internet with others who have qualified print disabilities (such as blindness, low vision, physical disabilities, or severe learning disabilities).

Innovations of the past 10 years include:

  • To safeguard against illegal sharing of books, yet enable assistive devices to access them, Bookshare developed a new approach to digital rights management.
  • To grow the library and improve quality, as a supplement to the volunteer scanning and proofing process, Bookshare partnered directly with publishers and with other social enterprises. To date, over 180 publishers have now contributed over half of the 135,000 titles in the collection.
  • To ensure that users can read Bookshare books wherever and however they want, Benetech partnered with leading assistive technology vendors to build in support for Bookshare, and released an iPad/iPhone app called Read2Go.
  • To ensure that technologies exist to access increasingly prevalent graphical content in educational materials, Benetech is a provider of accessible open content and open source tools to improve accessibility.