[Nfbmo] Fw: [Missouri-l] Project puts 1M books online for blind, dyslexic

Fred Olver goodfolks at charter.net
Fri May 7 18:02:14 UTC 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Chip Hailey
To: missouri-l at moblind.org
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2010 4:06 AM
Subject: [Missouri-l] Project puts 1M books online for blind, dyslexic

Project puts 1M books online for blind, dyslexic
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May 6, 11:14 AM (ET)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Even as audio versions of best-sellers fill store 
shelves and
new technology fuels the popularity of digitized books, the number of titles 
to people who are blind or dyslexic is minuscule.
A new service being announced Thursday by the nonprofit Internet Archive in 
San Francisco
is trying to change that. The group has hired hundreds of people to scan 
of books into its digital database - more than doubling the titles available 
to people
who aren't able to read a hard copy.
Brewster Kahle, the organization's founder, says the project will initially 
1 million books available to the visually impaired, using money from 
libraries, corporations and the government. He's hoping a subsequent book 
drive will
add even more titles to the collection.
"We'll offer current novels, educational books, anything. If somebody then 
a book to the archive, we can digitize it and add it to the collection," he 
The problems with many of the digitized books sold commercially is that 
they're expensive,
they're often abridged, and they don't come in a format that is easily 
accessed by
the visually impaired.
The collections are also limited to the most popular titles published within 
past several years.
The Internet Archive is scanning a variety of books in many languages so 
they can
be read by the software and devices blind people use to convert written 
pages into
speech. The organization has 20 scanning centers in five countries, 
including one
in the Library of Congress.
"Publishers mostly concentrate on their newest, profitable books. We are 
to get all books online," Kahle said.
Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, says getting 
to books has been a big challenge for blind people.
"Now, for the first time, we're going to have access to an enormous 
quantity," he
Maurer, who is blind, said that when he was in college, he hired people to 
read books
to him because the Braille and audio libraries were so limited.
"That has been the way most students have gotten through school," he said. 
kind of initiative by the Internet Archive will change that for many 
Only about 5 percent of published books are available in a digital form 
that's accessible
to the visually impaired, Maurer said, and there are even fewer books 
produced in
Ben Foss, a San Francisco man with dyslexia, says having so many more books 
is liberating. He compares it to a million more ramps being added throughout 
a city
for a person who uses a wheelchair.
"For me, it's about access. They have provided flexibility and freedom to 
get books
in a format that I use every day," said Foss, 36, who is the director of 
access technology
in the digital health group at Intel Corp.
The digitized books scanned by the Internet Archive will be available for 
free to
visually impaired people through the organization's website. The 
organization does
not run into copyright concerns because the law allows libraries to make 
books available
to people with disabilities, Kahle said.
Jessie Lorenz, an associate director at the Independent Living Resource 
Center San
Francisco who has been blind since birth, said it has been hard to find 
or edgy titles in a format she can use, and choices are often dictated by 
or service groups who have selected certain books for scanning.
"For individuals living with print-related disabilities, this is 
she said. "This project will enable people like me to choose what we read."
Lorenz, 31, has already decided what she wants: Howard Stern's autobiography 
Parts," Andrew Weil's "The Natural Mind," and, perhaps most importantly, her 


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