Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bookshares Making Books Accessible

After the furor over the Kindle 2 having text-to-voice conversion built in, you might have thought that the visually-impaired had no other access to print books and newspapers. The Kindle 2 did simplify the access and widen the offering for people unable to read traditional books, but there are other sources of reading materials. One is Bookshare, a project supported by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Program. Bookshare provides assistive technology and texts to physically, visually, and learning disabled people. Clients get devices that turn text files into either voice or braille.

A good explanation of how Bookshares works is found at

The cooperation of publishers makes some titles readily available for the project, while an exception to copyright law makes all titles legal for inclusion. Volunteers buy books, scan them, proof them, and assist distribution. There are many opportunities to help explained on the Bookshares website.

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