Accessibility meets libraries in the digital era

With the help of both optical character recognition software and volunteers, Bookshare, an online digital library dedicated solely to people with specific needs, is now the largest provider in their field. Admittedly, Bookshare moves towards different objectives than those of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and of the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. Bookshare strives to lower costs in order to provide a maximum number of accessible books as opposed to maximising quality.

The system applied by Bookshare relies heavily in volunteer work, from the scanning process to the review of the final product (copyright information, making sure that there are no missing pages etc.). The final cost to make the books accessible per book varies between 6USD and 50 USD, the latter being associated to school textbooks.

Books are available in 5 different formats, including the versatile DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and the BRF (Braille Refreshable Format) for users of braille refreshable.

The library is not open to everyone and is exclusively for the use of visual impaired people as well as those with physical and learning disability that significantly affects the use of printed materials. You can find detailed information on qualification criteria here. Despite having books in various languages among its current 374 000 titles, Bookshare is free for U.S. students but other individuals have to pay an annual fee of 50 USD.

Additional Sources: Bookshare,  Bookshare Membership, Actualitte