Great news for libraries helping users who have disabilities: OverDrive is taking action to alleviate the problems that library users with disabilities encounter when using eBooks. To get an idea of the problems these patrons face, you may want to read this article, “Mainstream Access to E-Books–What Works, What Doesn’t, and What is Still Unclear” from The Braille Monitor.
OverDrive’s LEAP (Library eBook Accessibility Program) connects library users with print disabilities to content in accessible digital formats. OverDrive is working in partnership with Bookshare (www.bookshare.org), a non-profit agency that provides eBook access for these users. Those who qualify for LEAP can download up to 20 eBooks every month for a year at no cost. Bookshare hosts popular digital books, textbooks, magazines and newspapers.
Bookshare eBooks are in accessible formats which include DAISY, BRF, and HTML, and can be used with free downloadable software like Read: OutLoud and Victor Reader. The eBooks can be read using computers, assistive reading devices, Braille printers and MP3 players.
Library users can register for LEAP on the OverDrive page by clicking on the “Accessible eBooks for the print-impaired” link on the left side of the page. They then enter their library card number and they will see information about Bookshare. As part of the process of qualifying for LEAP, they will be asked to provide proof of their disability which must be certified by a qualified professional. For details about qualifying disabilities, click here.
Here’s a link to a brochure you can print for library users: http://overdrive.com/Files/LEAP.pdf
These resources for the print-disabled can attract new library users and help libraries that don’t have large budgets to serve these users. If you have any experience with LEAP, Bookshare or any other eBook resource for people with print disabilities, please feel free to share your experience with other Virtual Lexicon readers.
Cooper-Siegel Community Library