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Bookshare and Mada Launch Accessible Arabic eBook Collection

Bookshare, the largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities, in partnership with Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center), has released 100 new titles in Arabic, giving Arabic readers with print disabilities the opportunity to read a diverse range of material.

The collection includes children’s books from Scholastic, contemporary books from Arab Scientific Publishers in Lebanon, and literary books from the public domain, in collaboration with Kotobarabia in Egypt.

Bookshare books are accessible to people who are unable to read standard print books due to blindness, low vision, physical disabilities and severe learning disabilities that affect reading, such as dyslexia. Using computer software, tablet computers, assistive technology devices, phones, and MP3 players, Bookshare members can listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices, read books in digital Braille, or magnify and highlight words as needed. The launch of the Arabic-language collection gives people with print disabilities in the Arab-speaking world the opportunity to read for school, work, or leisure and to participate more fully in society.

“We are proud to announce the addition of Arabic-language titles to the Bookshare collection, making this the largest collection of accessible Arabic books in the world. We thank Mada for its support, which enabled Bookshare to develop the technology needed to process Arabic-language content,” said Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Literacy at Benetech, the parent organization of Bookshare.

David Banes, CEO of Mada, added, “Mada is delighted at the launch of Bookshare for Arabic speakers. The availability of accessible digital content for Arabic speakers with a print impairment is a significant step towards full digital inclusion. The 100 books available today are a first step to offering a diversity of content that will help support Arabic speakers at school and university as well as for pleasure and relaxation. Mada encourages publishers of Arabic-language books to support this important initiative and provide additional content to be included in Bookshare. We have been delighted at the high standards and commitment of Bookshare to extending their collection to support Arabic speakers and look forward to a productive collaboration in the future.”

“Mada’s vision for an inclusive society and their commitment to people with print disabilities matches our own. By supporting this partnership and ongoing collaboration, Mada has taken a leadership position in the field in a very short period of time. I congratulate them on their efforts and their second anniversary,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, and a leader in the field of accessibility and disability rights for over 25 years.

Bookshare has members in more than 40 countries. In addition to Arabic, more than 64,000 English-language titles are available to members in Qatar and most other countries. Bookshare also provides reading tools including computer software for PC and Mac, the Read2Go app for iOS devices, and a new, free, open source reading app for the Android OS called Go Read.

To increase access to accessible reading materials and tools, Mada offers free Bookshare memberships to qualified individuals in Qatar as well as training, assessment and advice to people with disabilities on the use of Assistive Technology.

Learn more about Bookshare and the Arabic-language collection at http://www.bookshare.qa.

About Benetech

Benetech is a nonprofit technology company based in Palo Alto, California. Benetech pursues projects with a strong social rather than financial rate of return on investment, harnessing open source technology to create innovative solutions to challenging social issues. Programs that Benetech supports include the Bookshare library, DIAGRAM, Route 66 Literacy, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, the Martus software project, and Social Coding for Good.

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. In 2007, Bookshare received a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 146,000 books and serves more than 200,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based non-profit which creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

About Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center)

Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) was established in June 2010 with a broad mandate to connect people with a disability to technology, regardless of age, setting, disability or aspiration. Mada is a public private partnership that was established by the Qatar Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, as well as Qatar Telecommunications (Qtel), Vodafone Qatar, Microsoft Qatar, and Qatar National Bank. Mada is a center dedicated to connecting people with disabilities to the world of ICT as a means of increasing opportunities in the areas of education and employment, as well as improving overall quality of life.

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