[Nfbc-info] Google Settlement with Authors, Publishers Will Have Positive Results for the Blind

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Fri Oct 31 23:29:24 UTC 2008


Chris Danielsen

Public Relations Specialist

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

Google Settlement with Authors, Publishers
Will Have Positive Results for the Blind

Terms of Proposed Settlement Agreement
Will Revolutionize Blind People's Access to Books

Baltimore, Maryland (October 31, 2008): The National Federation of 
the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for access to information by 
the blind, announced today that the recent settlement between Google 
and authors and publishers over the Google Books project, if approved 
by the courts, will have a profound and positive impact on the 
ability of blind people to access the printed word.  The terms of the 
settlement that was reached on October 28, among Google, the Authors 
Guild, and the Association of American Publishers, on behalf of a 
broad class of authors and publishers, allow Google to provide the 
material it offers users "in a manner that accommodates users with 
print disabilities so that such users have a substantially similar 
user experience as users without print disabilities."  A user with a 
print disability under the agreement is one who is "unable to read or 
use standard printed material due to blindness, visual disability, 
physical limitations, organic dysfunction, or dyslexia."  Blind 
people, like other members of the public, will be able to search the 
texts of books in the Google Books database online; purchase some 
books in an accessible format; or access accessible books at 
libraries and other entities that have an institutional subscription 
to the Google Books database.  Once the court approves the 
settlement, Google will work to launch these services as quickly as possible.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "Access to the printed word has historically been one of the 
greatest challenges faced by the blind.  The agreement between Google 
and authors and publishers will revolutionize access to books for 
blind Americans.

Blind people will be able to search for books through the Google 
Books interface and purchase, borrow, or read at a public library any 
of the books that are available to the general public in a format 
that is compatible with text enlargement software, text-to-speech 
screen access software, and refreshable Braille devices.  With 7 
million books already available in the Google Books collection and 
many more to come, this agreement means that blind people will have 
more access to print books than we have ever had in human 
history.  The blind, just like the sighted, will have a world of 
education, information, and entertainment literally at our 
fingertips.  The National Federation of the Blind commends the 
parties to this agreement for their commitment to full and equal 
access to information by the blind."

"Among the most monumental aspects of the settlement agreement," said 
Jack Bernard, assistant general counsel at the University of 
Michigan, "are the terms that enable Google and libraries to make 
works accessible to people who have print disabilities.  This 
unprecedented opportunity to access the printed word will make it 
possible for blind people to engage independently with our rich 
written culture.  Moreover, it is refreshing to find accessibility 
for people with disabilities explicitly included upfront, rather than 
begrudgingly added as an afterthought."

  "One of the great promises of the settlement agreement is improving 
access to books for the blind and for those with print disabilities," 
said Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Book 
Search.  "Google is committed to extending all of the services 
available under the agreement to the blind and print disability 
community, making it easier to access these books through screen 
enlargement, reader, and Braille display technologies."


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
people in the United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives 
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs 
encouraging independence and self-confidence.  It is the leading 
force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's 
blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the 
Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in 
the United States for the blind led by the blind.  Please visit our 
Web site: <http://www.nfb.org/>www.nfb.org.

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