[bksvol-discuss] fw: NACS Scan-Flat World and Bookshare To Deliver Accessible Open

  • From: "Lori" <lori@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 15:13:50 -0500

NACS Scan-Flat World and Bookshare To Deliver Accessible Open
Content Texts to College Students
FROM: Campus Technology
Flat World and Bookshare To Deliver Accessible Open Content Texts to College
Open-content publisher Flat World Knowledge has announced it will supply
college textbooks to Bookshare, the free online library for people with
print disabilities. Flat World will be the first publisher of post-secondary
texts to contribute material to the organization.
Although many colleges and universities make special accommodations for
students with print disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired
and those with dyslexia, financially challenged institutions are struggling
in the current economy to provide all the necessary materials in formats
that accommodate such students. Flat World and Bookshare said they expect
the new agreement will begin to relieve some of that burden. Schools will no
longer each have to do their own conversions of commonly used texts, saving
time and money, and students requiring materials in special formats will
have a one-stop, online destination to meet their needs.
"If all publishers supplied their books directly to Bookshare, it would save
colleges and universities millions of dollars each year and immediately
equalize educational opportunities," said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech,
the nonprofit that operates Bookshare. "Without the cooperation of a
publisher such as Flat World, students often wait for weeks to get textbooks
in accessible formats and, in some cases, are forced to drop courses due to
lack of accessible books. Flat World is the first post-secondary textbook
publisher to recognize and alleviate this problem."
The initial agreement will provide for the immediate conversion of 11
open-content titles, primarily in business and economics, and the
development of 50 more titles covering several other disciplines in the
natural and social sciences.
"Our college campus uses Flat World Knowledge in its Accounting 120 and 121
courses," said Erika Higginbotham, adaptive computer technology specialist
at San Diego Mesa College. "This partnership with Bookshare means that
students in those courses with [print] disabilities will have their
textbooks when the semester begins."
Deborah Armstrong, an alternate media specialist at DeAnza Community College
in Cupertino, CA, also noted that textbooks present an ever increasing cost
to all students. The new partnership, she said, "is a giant step forward to
offer high-quality, peer-reviewed, open source digital textbooks to minimize
costs and parents' angst for how to pay for core textbooks necessary to
support their [children's] college education."
One innovation in the process that this agreement introduces is up-front,
pre-publication delivery of content. Flat World will supply the books
directly to Bookshare in XML format, eliminating the time-consuming process
of scanning and converting paper copies. Bookshare can then, using its own
technology infrastructure, rapidly convert the books to special formats for
the print disabled, most notably DAISY, which offers access to those with
print disabilities via both multi-modal reading, combining highlighted
on-screen text with high-quality computer-generated voice, and Braille Ready
Format (BRF), a digital Braille format for use with Braille displays or
embossed Braille.
Bookshare's ongoing efforts are funded in part through a 2007 grant from the
United States Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs
(OSEP). The five-year, $32 million grant allows the organization, through
technology initiatives and targeted agreements, to provide those with
qualified print disabilities equal access to printed materials using formats
such as DAISY and BRF.

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