Despite large scale efforts to implement systems to equalize the educational playing field for all students, there is still a
profound achievement gap between expected performance and actual performance for students with disabilities. A significant
factor in this gap is the lack of accessible educational materials for students with print disabilities. Students with print
disabilities include those who are blind, have low vision or learning disabilities such as dyslexia, or those with physical
disabilities that prevent them from reading traditional printed text. It is estimated that merely five percent of print materials
worldwide are produced in accessible formats. When accessible materials are provided, it is often at great expense to the
individual schools and/or the students.
Educators are required to accommodate diverse student learning environments, of which accessible materials and assistive
technology are essential components. Notwithstanding the mandated standardized file formats and central repository for
accessible materials, publishers have been slow to provide accessible files. System inefficiencies, continued laborious
duplication of efforts, and the high cost of the assistive technologies have all contributed to the on-going challenge of
education agencies, schools and teachers to meet the objective of equal access to books for all students. There remains a
profound need to supplement, complement and partner with a variety of organizations to promote solutions for accessibility.
Bookshare.org will provide national free access to high-quality educational materials and supporting assistive technology to all
qualified students who are visually impaired or print disabled. We believe it is time for every student with a print disability to
have access to the materials they need for success in the classroom and beyond. Bookshare.org is an Internet library where
people with print disabilities are able to find over 34,000 books, magazines and newspapers in accessible formats that they
can read. It is a place where the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, working from their homes or offices around the country,
equally committed to our mission of providing equality of access to information, can join forces to efficiently share books.
Further, the alternative book formats provided by Bookshare.org mean that students can read in the environment that best
meets their needs: enlarged text, Braille, synthesized speech or a combination for a multi-sensory reading experience.
Beginning in October 2007, Bookshare.org will ensure that the following outcomes are achieved:
- Every U.S. student with a qualifying print disability will have free access to high quality accessible educational
material directly or through his or her educational institution.
- Every such student will have access to a free, downloadable assistive technology solution that can read
Bookshare.org books aloud and display them visually.
- Any state or local education agency or postsecondary staff person will be able to register his or her qualified students
easily and access books on their behalf.
- These books will work smoothly with all specialized assistive technology products used by students for access with
synthetic speech, large print and/or Braille based on our collaboration with leading assistive technology vendors.
- Volunteers, publishers, educational agencies, schools and accessible media producers will have a place where their
efforts to provide accessible books will have the maximum reach with minimal duplication of effort.
Our country's students with print disabilities must have the fundamental prerequisite to education: equal access to the same
printed material that is available to students without disabilities in a timely manner. We are committed to ensuring that those
who need this access get it when they need it.
We were avidly working on this project during CGI 2007 and secured the commitment the last afternoon of the event, too
late to make a public announcement. CGI has inspired us to 'up the ante' in terms of impact for Bookshare.org, which is a fiveyear-
old program of Benetech that had traditionally served disabled Americans. First, in 2006, we committed to taking
Bookshare.org global. In October 2007, we launched Bookshare.org International, meeting our Clinton Global Initiative
Commitment of 2006. Our accessible library is now available to print disabled people globally.
Our Commitment for 2007 builds upon the work we have been doing with Bookshare.org to expand access to content for
students. Through the Bookshare.org for Education project, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, we will
significantly expand our impact by reaching out to all students with print disabilities throughout the country and offering them
educational materials free of charge. In addition, this project will significantly grow our collection of high quality educational
reading materials that students need to succeed in school and beyond.
We will monitor internal planning and management activities in relation to carrying out the project activities. This will include developing annual work plans that include goals, activities, timelines and projected outcomes to be approved by the Project Director, weekly meetings with the engineering team and other project personnel, and working with an External Evaluator to further identify and measure our processes and metrics and to report on our progress.
Measures of Success: We will evaluate the data collected through Bookshare.org's digital information system, such as the number, type and location of student members, type of disability, and the number and type of books in the collection, including how many are being downloaded.