[bksvol-discuss] Re: our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and Betsy Beaumon

  • From: "Andy B." <sonfire11@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2010 08:58:36 -0400

Don't think I can help clean up PQ books for the most part, put image
descriptions where they need to go, scan books or proof them since my time
is starting to get quite crunched now. Wish I could do something... Any
ideas? I will finish the book I am working on though.

-----Original Message-----
From: bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Chela Robles
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 3:04 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman
and Betsy Beaumon

Yeah I wish to help in this department too.


"To me, music that breaks your heart is the music that stays with you

forever. It's one thing to be melancholy and one thing to be

sophisticated, but when you get the two of them together in a way

people can relate to, then I think you're on to something. You want

the sophistication to lie in the purity of the sound, the beauty of

the arrangements, and the quality of the performances."-Trumpeter

Chris Botti


Chela Robles

AIM and E-Mail: cdrobles693@xxxxxxxxx

Skype: jazzytrumpet

WindowsLive Messenger: cdrobles693@xxxxxxxxxxx

I Volunteer for a non-profit organization called Bookshare, to find

out more go to: http://www.bookshare.org


On 8/6/2010 11:52 AM, Dan Beaver wrote: 

How can we find out more about the pdf conversions?  I would very much like
to participate in this effort if we volunteers out here are allowed to do
I already have some software that converts pdfs to Word and RTF files.  I
suspect it probably isn't as robust as what Bookshare uses in house though.

From: Nicole  <mailto:nicoleg@xxxxxxxxxxxx> Gnutzman 
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 1:46 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Cc: Jim Fruchterman <mailto:Jim.F@xxxxxxxxxxxx>  ; Betsy Beaumon
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] our commitment to you: from Jim Fruchterman and
Betsy Beaumon

Jim and Betsy asked me to share their thoughts on Benetech's commitment to
its volunteer program.

Dear Bookshare Volunteers,

We wanted to give you some thoughts on the critical importance of volunteers
to Bookshare and its mission of getting everybody in the world with a print
disability access to the books they need for education, employment and full
inclusion in society.  Although there's been a lot of change in Bookshare,
one thing that won't change is our need for volunteers that share our
dedication to that mission.  

Bookshare is the first library for people with print disabilities built
primarily by people with print disabilities (as well as book-lovers of all
types!).  Our credo has been that if someone thought a book was worth
scanning, we thought it was worth sharing.  We knew that people with
disabilities had few choices for accessible materials, and that scanning was
a frustrating and slow process.  

The volunteers built Bookshare into a potent force for equality: we've
revolutionized a field that was falling far short of meeting the goal of
equality when it comes to access to the printed word.  And you've worked
with us to revolutionize the quality of our scanned books through meticulous
proofreading. Thanks to partnerships with over 60 publishers (especially a
handful of huge trade publishers), we have now been able to add thousands of
new titles to Bookshare electronically, delighting our users.  Scott and
Pavi have shared with us, and our management team, some of the negative
impacts this has had on the morale of some of our volunteers.  This is
especially true when a publisher-supplied version of a title displaces a
volunteer-supplied version of that same title.  

We know some people feel like that's not respectful of their volunteer time,
or that somehow their volunteer time was wasted.  I hope you realize that it
has been the potent force of our volunteers creating Bookshare that has
brought so many modern publishers to the table, since we can tell them that
we already can scan all of their books, but providing it electronically will
save us time and the cost of buying a book, chopping it, scanning it and
proofreading it. The two things they want in return from us is to publicize
their social responsibility and replace our scanned versions with the
version they supply.  The replacement issue is pretty much a standard
requirement: publishers want to be assured of the quality of their books
we're distributing. For the publishers it's built into the publishing
culture, they do believe their original product is superior and that this
requirement implements their contractual responsibilities to the authors,
even though most readers will concur that these are also not perfect.  While
there are exceptions, the value of having 15-20,000 publisher supplied books
over a year to our users is incredibly high.  

These publisher partnerships are a terrific way to help advance our mission,
in terms of quality, quantity and uniquely, reach outside the United States.
But, they are not going to replace our need for volunteers.  We have a long
way to go to deliver equal access to our users, and the market is going to
fail to fill these needs for the foreseeable future (even as we applaud the
recent accessibility work of Amazon, Apple and Google).  

Let me give you some ideas of the gaps that still exist:

.       Older books, specialty books, or simply books that aren't in the top
5% of sales during the years since 2000.  While it makes sense for us to
invest the effort of the amazing Robin Seaman, our Publisher Liaison, and
our engineering team to support a publisher who can give us 4,000 titles at
once, there aren't very many more of those big name publishers, but there
are over 25,000 publishers.  

.       Proofing PDF files. The bulk of publishers in the U.S., and almost
all publishers in the developing world, don't have the modern XML
capabilities of the major trade publishers.  We are getting tons of PDF
books from these publishers, which need volunteer effort to convert into
accessible form. 

.       The international challenge: new titles, new publishers, new
languages and new communities of Bookshare volunteers in other countries who
would benefit from mentoring.  Americans have Bookshare, but the average
person with a print disability has nothing.  We have so much more to do

.       Proofing textbooks.  The textbook industry is way behind the
technology curve and Carrie is sitting on stacks of hardcopy textbooks sent
in by teachers from around the country.

.       Metadata.  Even if we have something, it only helps if the person
looking for it finds it.  We can use significant volunteer help cleaning up
the information about our information.

.       Quality improvements.  Improving quality on older, lower quality

.       Image description.  A huge challenge that our field has barely begun
to scratch the surface of.  Our publisher contracts do allow us to add them
to the publisher-supplied books and we   recently received a major award
over five years from the Department of Ed for the DIAGRAM Center, to
research and then develop technology to reduce the cost of doing image
descriptions. The centerpiece is developing tools for better and faster
volunteer image description. Stay tuned!

The list goes on.  While the need for volunteer work on major trade books of
the last five years is going down as these come in directly from publishers,
these other needs are acute.  

Our responsibility is to get better at communicating with volunteers about
our needs, and about what's going to be happening.  Our technology roadmap
has numerous improvements planned around improving visibility on these
issues so that you can avoid doing those books that are likely to come in
directly in from the publisher.  But, there are and will be thousands of
opportunities for volunteer tasks that are unlikely to ever be done any
other way than through volunteer efforts.  We really want to create systems
where having volunteer work displaced quickly by publisher supplied content
is a rarity.  

We hope you'll find personally rewarding volunteer opportunities now, and in
the future, with Benetech.  For those of you who aren't excited about the
changes, we understand.  But, please be 100% clear:  Bookshare volunteers
have been the primary force for revolutionary change in accessibility of
books.  There are many thousands of students and adults with disabilities
that have far greater access to the printed word thanks to your past
efforts.  But, the revolution is far from finished: we're serving 100,000
people today and there are over 100,000,000 who need Bookshare on the
planet.  We hope you'll continue to volunteer your time in helping realize
the vision we all share of equal access for everyone who needs it!

Jim Fruchterman & Betsy Beaumon

Nicole Gnutzman
Director, Literacy Operations


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