From the press release:

Bookshare® a global leader in copyrighted, digital accessible books for people with print disabilities, is dramatically overachieving its five year collection and member targets at the close of its fourth year of funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).   Benetech®, the parent nonprofit for Bookshare, simultaneously received a new 1-year award from OSEP for a project called ‘LIT’ or Leveraging Impact Through Technology.

In the LIT project, Benetech will use technology innovation to scale up efforts that will maximize impact for years to come and ensure equal access to quality education by students with disabilities.  The LIT project, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), will advance the important work delivered under the Bookshare for Education (B4E) project in the areas of new content, tools and increased utilization, with a focus on these key areas:

  • ·         Open-content, publicly available and freely shared image descriptions and reusable graphical models to enhance accessibility in *NIMAC books and Common Core titles.
  • ·         A free, open source Android ebook reader and a free web-based ebook reader along with an accessible bookshelf in “the cloud,” enabling teachers to more easily assign books to students and enabling parents and students to add books, accessible from multiple devices.
  • ·         Access to Bookshare books in mp3 and DAISY audio.
  • ·         Free nationwide professional development designed to increase utilization, leveraging AIR’s experience in practice and delivery and Bookshare’s proven hands-on Professional Development Workshops.

The $3M award comes as Benetech celebrates rapid growth in multiple program areas. In its fourth year of the five-year B4E award, Bookshare now serves 150,000 students, 150% of its five year goal. Additionally, Bookshare passed its five year target of 80,000 new educational titles as record numbers of ebooks pour into the library from publishers and hundreds of student textbook requests are fulfilled every month.

Christine Bevilacqua, a NY special education teacher said this about her student, David. “He went from almost no participation in school to full inclusion after becoming a member of Bookshare. “Last year, he completed all five NY State Regents tests for graduation with exemplary results in English 97%, U.S. History 100%, and Global History 98%.”

Today, Bookshare’s collection tops 125,000 books, including NIMAC textbooks, teacher recommended reading, dictionaries and encyclopedias along with periodicals and best-selling titles. Over 168 publishers contribute books such as Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette.  University presses and academic publishers include John Wiley & Sons and Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, Chicago, Cornell and Stanford.  International publishers include Taylor & Francis, Cambridge and SAGE Publications, Ltd.

“The LIT project will add many new innovations to the groundwork laid by the Bookshare for Education project, greatly increasing the benefits to students with disabilities for years to come,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of Literacy Programs for Benetech.  “With the rapid growth of members, the variety of partnerships and our goals for improved content, tools and utilization, Bookshare members of any age will likely find the required materials they need for school and for pleasure.”

According to Kip Massey, Bookshare member, “Bookshare has changed my life, and undoubtedly the lives of every one of its subscribers, even if they’re too young to know it. It’s like taking somebody who grew up hungry and scraping bloody-knuckled for every meal, and turning them loose in a giant grocery store.”


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