Monday, March 09, 2009

Hachette Embraces Bookshare

Producing books for the visually impaired has always been difficult as they needed special large print, Braille or an audio edition and these were often not available. It is estimated that fewer than five percent of the books needed by people in the US with print disabilities are currently available in accessible formats.

However, today’s digital world should help change that in a number of ways, making a good read available to all. Bookshare, the largest online library for this community with more than 43,000 books and 150 periodicals, have pursued this belief and ensured that people with disabilities get the same ease of access to books and periodicals that people without disabilities enjoy. Today the Bookshare library provides legal access for it 47,000 members to Braille, large print or synthetic speech titles.

Bookshare members download books, textbooks and newspapers in files protected by its DRM and members can read the texts using adaptive technology, such as text-to-speech software or enlarged font, or hardware devices that allow the book to be read on refreshable Braille displays or print the digital books as embossed Braille.

Now Bookshare and the Hachette Book Group (HBG) have entered into a partnership to provide digital books for the Bookshare library with Hachette having agreed to donate 1,700 currently digitized frontlist and backlist titles and also refer all customer service requests for accessible books to Bookshare for fulfillment.

We commend Hachette in this move and suggest that it becomes a route taken by all as they digitise their works and in doing so helps remove the stigma of disabilities and allows everyone to enjoy books.

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