The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 13% of all U.S. Veterans, over 2.8 million individuals, now live with blindness, physical disabilities or traumatic brain injuries. These print disabilities make it difficult, if nearly impossible, to read a newspaper, study a textbook or enjoy a bestseller. With the evolution of digital accessible books, disabled Veterans may have a new lifeline to reading through Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of copyrighted books and periodicals for people with qualified print disabilities. Today, Bookshare serves over a quarter million members who are blind, have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability, like dyslexia.
“We want to ensure that all qualified disabled Veterans know about Bookshare and how to easily become a member,” said, Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of the Benetech Global Literacy Program. “Digital accessible books can break down reading barriers and open a new lifeline to reading to go back to school, learn a new vocation or just read for pleasure.”
For non-student disabled Veterans who qualify, Bookshare now offers a free 30 day trial membership to download 20 digital accessible books and use the free reading tools and apps until December 31, 2013. After the trial, a minimal annual fee of $50 includes full access to a vast collection of accessible eBooks, (over 210,000), including military collections. Titles can be easily searched, downloaded and read on a variety of devices like a computer, tablet, smart phone, MP3 player, or refreshable braille display using accessibility features for quick navigation, bookmarking, text-to-speech, and enlarged fonts.
Bookshare is free to any U.S. student who qualifies — thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. This free membership includes qualified Veterans now attending a U.S. school or university. Disabled Veterans receiving services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, through the Vocational, Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VET Success), may also be eligible for free membership. Veterans’ hospitals and associations please contact Veterans@bookshare.org.
For more information and to sign up, visit http://veterans.bookshare.org/2013free.
Brian Higgins, CCAI, Supervisor of Computer Access and Technology, in the Western Blind Rehab Center, CA said, “Bookshare is a valuable resource and service. I’m disabled and have used the library for more than six years personally and professionally to find all types of books from computer programming languages to history to college textbooks.”
Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives 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. In 2012 Bookshare received a second five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students, including disabled Veterans with a qualified print disability. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit which creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.
The content of this press release was developed under a cooperative agreement, H327D120002 with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.