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Benetech, a California-based nonprofit organization, operates the Bookshare.org digital library for people who are blind. eIFL and Benetech are beginning negotiations around discounted access to the Bookshare.org collection for eIFL consortia. To test the interest level, Bookshare.org has agreed to offer a free pilot program to all eIFL national consortia. Bookshare.org will provide 100 book download credits and/or 10 individual one year memberships and has negotiated agreements with publishers to provide these books solely to individuals with severe disabilities that affect reading. They cannot be used for other purposes. For an individual to be served, the participating library must sign the Bookshare.org organization agreement as well as certify that the individual has a qualifying disability (such as blindness).
Bookshare.org provides additional software that uses synthetic speech to read the books aloud to blind users. There are roughly 3,000 copyrighted titles in the Bookshare.org collection with global rights negotiated from a handful of publishers: computer software/technical (O'Reilly Media), trade (HarperCollins), science fiction (Baen) and children's books (Scholastic). Roughly two thirds of these books are in English and the rest are in Spanish. More global rights are planed to be negotiated. Please contact Susan Veldsman, eIFL Content Manager, to participate. One of eIFL's goals has always been to level the playing field and push for equitable access to information, and we would like to thank Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, for offering this important opportunity to extend eIFL.net services to disadvantaged users.