04:38 AM

US Gov Funds Benetech To Create The First Open Content School Books For Disabled Persons

The US government has awarded Benetech $100,000 to create the first versions of open content school books that can be more easily accessed by disabled people.

The math and science textbooks are freely distributable under a Creative Commons license. The textbooks, which have been approved for California high school students, will be converted to accessible formats by Benetech's Bookshare (http://www.bookshare.org) library for people with print disabilities (disabilities like blindness, dyslexia and physical inability to hold books that prevent them from reading standard books.)

Bookshare will offer the California books in a locked version that meets the state's education standard. The CK-12 Foundation will also publish updated versions of the books which can be modified by readers under the terms of the license.

Bookshare will offer the California textbooks in the accessible DAISY format that supports highlighted onscreen text with high-quality computer generated voice. The accessible texts will also be provided in BRF, a digital Braille format for use with Braille displays or embossed Braille.

"Once again California's innovation has inspired action, as those with reading challenges will soon be able to read the standards-aligned digital textbooks adopted under California's first-in-the-nation digital textbook initiative," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Thanks to Bookshare and the U.S. Department of Education, these textbooks will be converted into accessible formats so students who struggle with reading traditional textbooks have a new opportunity to enhance their education."

The books could become widely used, even globally, because there is no requirement to prove disability.

More details here.

(Hat tip Janet Kornblum)