Thursday, May 6, 2010

Over 1 Million Digital Books Now Available Free to the Print-Disabled

Via archive.org

More than doubling the number of books available to print disabled people of all ages, today the Internet Archive launched a new service that brings free access to more than 1 million books — from classic 19th century fiction and current novels to technical guides and research materials — now available in the specially designed format to support those who are blind, dyslexic or are otherwise visually impaired.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution.”

Kahle also announced that the Internet Archive will be investing in the growth of its virtual bookshelf by funding the digitization of the first 10,000 books donated. Individuals and organizations are welcome to donate their favorite book or a collection of books. Books in all languages welcome. To donate books visit: http://openlibrary.org/bookdrive

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Blind people must have access to repositories of digital information if we are to reach our goal of becoming full and equal participants in society. Access to the books that have been scanned by the Internet Archive in a format accessible to the blind will be another step toward that goal. We are excited about continuing to work with Internet Archive to make access to more books a reality.”

The 1 million+ books in the Internet Archive’s library for print disabled, are scanned from hard copy books then digitized into DAISY — a specialized format used by blind or other persons with disabilities, for easy navigation. Files are downloaded to devices that translate the text and read the books aloud for the user to enjoy. To access books visit: http://openlibrary.org/subjects/accessible_book

Jessie Lorenz is a 31 year old woman who was born blind and is the Associate Director of at the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco. She believes, “Knowledge is power – and like everyone else, blind and print disabled people need equitable access to books to help them be innovative, productive, contributing community members.”

Older books are available from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted DAISY library and modern books can be accessed by “qualified users” through their NLS key — an encrypted code provided by the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), that is dedicated to providing materials to the print disabled. Currently, over 800,000 people in the US are registered with the Library of Congress as being print disabled.

As of today, the Internet Archive offers over one million books for print disabled people. NLS lists 500,000, Bookshare.org lists approximately 70,000, and Reading for the Blind & Dyslexic lists 60,000.

“This demonstrates why having open and public access to published works is so important,” said Kahle.

By leveraging automated scanning and conversion processes, Internet Archive technicians can conduct a cost-efficient scan of more than one thousand books per day.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : andrevanb

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