Thursday, October 21, 2010

Read How You Want--Helping the Blind

Over a month ago I posted about Bookshare, an organization that makes book content accessible for the blind. After that post I received a letter from Michael Covington, Information and Education Director for ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association). Michael had further news about what ECPA has done to help the blind and seeing impaired be able to read. He was glad to have me share his info with you.

I appreciated your post-script about bookshare and making content accessible for the blind. The information on is something many publishers are not aware of, because as you mentioned, this service is allowed under the law to copy the texts and convert them to digital for consumption by blind readers without permission, and many visually impaired readers take advantage of this (there is an annual subscription necessary). The challenge with bookshare, particularly in the Christian genre, is the limited number of titles available. Because bookshare (as well as services like the National Library Service) operates based on demand or on user provided content, finding the exact title you're looking for, when you need it, is not always possible. This means that people who are reading disabled (including those with conditions such as dyslexia) cannot always participate in book groups, bible studies or even common place "water cooler" talk in the work place, simply because the content everyone else is reading is not available.

ECPA has been working with a company called ReadHowYouWant for the last few years to help remedy this solution and to give publishers greater incentive to make new/popular content available for those with reading disabilities. As there is no revenue stream for publishers (or royalties for authors) generated by accessible-content services such as Bookshare, most publishers will only occasionally license their content for large-print distribution (meaning 16-point font) with companies such as Thorndike Press. Unfortunately, for many people affected by reading disabilities, a barely-larger font size doesn't solve the problem. Keep in mind that while Bookshare and NLS provide digitally produced audio files, not everyone has the equipment necessary to consume this media. Sometimes a person can read larger font, but is in need of a more readable font, with darker ink on whiter paper. RHYW has worked through all of these issues to provide a print-on-demand solution that allows the reader to pick the style of book they want (multiple font-styles are available), have it custom printed and delivered right to their door, at or slightly above the same price as the original title. They also provide a digital file option (DAISY or Braille) similar to Bookshare, for those who want that as well.

This model allows for additional revenue which is then shared with the publishers of the content. There is more that could be written about this, but you can check out our current online offering of RHYW Christian titles at

Thanks again for helping to promote awareness.


Michael Covington
Information and Education Director

On another topic, the winner of the month's Photo Friday is Peggy Phifer with this caption: "I've finally lost my grip on reality." Congrats, Peggy! Contact me for your free book.

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