Bookshare Receives Five-Year $32 Million Grant From U.S. Department of Education
Far Reaching Award Makes Equal Access to Educational Materials for the Disabled a Reality
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Palo Alto, CA, October 15, 2007 –The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Benetech’s® Bookshare® project $32 million over five years to significantly expand the availability of accessible electronic books and the software for reading those books.
Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible library of scanned books and periodicals. Working with state and local education agencies, schools, teachers and students, Bookshare will give all K-12, postsecondary and graduate students in the United States with qualifying print disabilities access to this library without charge.
The funding for this project was authorized under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and was awarded by the Office of
Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education.
According to OSEP, the purpose of the award is to provide free educational
materials, including textbooks, in accessible media for use by students
with visual impairments and other print disabilities in elementary and
secondary schools and in postsecondary and graduate schools.
“We are going to reach out to every student, every family with a disabled student, and every school in the U.S. to offer them a chance to join the Bookshare community for free and transform the practice of making books accessible,” said Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. “We expect to deliver millions of books to students through this new program over the next five years, using our very cost-effective online production and delivery systems.”
Bookshare is an online community that allows people with print disabilities to legally download books and periodicals to be read as Braille, large print or synthetic speech. Those with print disabilities include people who are blind, those with low vision, severe dyslexia or a mobility impairment that prevents them from reading a traditional printed book.
Benetech is a Palo Alto, California-based nonprofit organization that builds software and provides technology for people with disabilities and for human rights and environmental groups. Benetech combines social conscience with Silicon Valley expertise to develop technology that has a lasting impact on critical needs around the world.
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