Thursday, July 15, 2010

Millions of Books get Digitized for the Disabled

USA Today reports that the Internet Archive is embarking on a new campaign to double the number of digitized books available for print disabled people:
For those who are blind, dyslexic or have diseases like multiple sclerosis and have difficulty turning book pages, reading the latest best seller just got easier.

Brewster Kahle, a digital librarian and founder of a virtual library called the Internet Archive, has launched a worldwide campaign to double the number of books available for print-disabled people.

The Internet Archive began scanning books in 2004 and now has more than 1 million available in DAISY format, or Digital Accessible Information System, a means of creating "talking" books that can be downloaded to a handheld device. Unlike books on tape, the digital format makes it easier for print-disabled people to navigate books because they can speed up, slow down and skip around from chapter to chapter. . . .

Christopher Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, says the Internet Archive will benefit the 1.3 million blind people in the USA because it will increase the variety of books available to the population. Danielsen says only about 5% of published books are transferred to a format the blind can use. . . .

Kahle says the Internet Archive is an invaluable resource for dyslexic, blind and print-disabled students who can use the digital book collection to download reference materials and write research papers. He encourages teachers to send in books that will be on reading lists for the next school year. If received now, the books can be scanned during the summer and available online when school resumes in the fall.

The Internet Archive will cover the expenses of scanning the first 10,000 books it receives but is asking people to donate to help continue scanning.

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