Benetech’s Bookshare Library Expands Services in Canada
Canadian Public Libraries Offer Hundreds of Thousands of Accessible eBooks to Patrons with Disabilities
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Palo Alto, California, July 8, 2014—Benetech has announced that Bookshare, the largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities, is expanding its services in Canada. Thanks to its partnership with Canada’s newly launched Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), Bookshare now offers its large and growing collection of accessible ebooks to Canadians with print disabilities in their own communities through their public libraries.
Benetech has been working to bring the proven Bookshare model to people in need all around the world since 2008. Bookshare, a Benetech Global Literacy initiative, currently serves members with qualifying print disabilities in nearly 50 countries and has been granted permission from publishers to provide over 165,000 titles (out of its current total collection of over 280,000 accessible titles) in most of these countries. In Canada, Bookshare now offers more than 180,000 accessible ebooks.
“For the over three million Canadians who have a print disability, access to the most current reading materials in alternate formats like audio, braille, or enlarged text has been an ongoing challenge,” notes Betsy Beaumon, Vice President of the Benetech Global Literacy Program that runs Bookshare. “We can now help open up new horizons for Canadians with print disabilities, whose local public library provides CELA services, by offering them access to Bookshare’s massive collection of accessible ebooks free of charge, for use on a wide variety of devices including mobile phones and tablets. This is a major step forward towards our vision of a world where accessibility has no borders.”
For the past several years, Bookshare has served Canadians with visual impairments through its partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Now with the launch of CELA—a national non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries to provide equitable public library services for Canadians with print disabilities—Bookshare can support Canadian public library patrons with any qualifying print disability.
“Bookshare, like all of Benetech’s initiatives, is built to scale, using technology to impact as many lives as possible,” says Jim Fruchterman, Benetech CEO. “We are thrilled to partner with CELA—and by extension with public libraries—to address the needs of Canadians with print disabilities by expanding the proven Bookshare model outside the U.S. With thoughtful collaboration, there can be a groundswell in recognition and advancement of the rights of people with disabilities. We are looking forward to realizing the potential of Bookshare to eventually help millions of other people globally live fuller lives.”
Canadians with qualifying disabilities who are interested in signing up for free access to Bookshare must first register for CELA services through their public library. For more information, please contact your local public library.
Benetech is a Silicon Valley nonprofit technology company that provides software tools and services to address pressing social needs. Each of its program areas—Global Literacy, Human Rights, the Environment, and Benetech Labs—offers the greatest social impact on funds invested. Social entrepreneur and MacArthur Fellow Jim Fruchterman founded Benetech in 1989 and leads the organization as its CEO. For more information, please visit Benetech.org.
Bookshare, a Benetech Global Literacy initiative, is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Through its technology services 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. The Bookshare library now serves more than 300,000 members with a collection of over 280,000 titles. To learn more about Bookshare, please visit Bookshare.org.
The Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) is a new, national non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries to provide equitable public library services for Canadians with print disabilities. CELA provides services to libraries to enable them to serve their patrons who have a visual, learning or physical disability that prevents them from reading conventional print. CELA is governed by a Board made up of public library representatives from across Canada, and is supported by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC). CELA champions the fundamental right of Canadians with print disabilities to access media and reading materials in a format of their choice. For more information, please visit CelaLibrary.ca.