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Weekly News Digest

December 21, 2009 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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Flat World Knowledge Partners with Bookshare to Make Free College Textbooks Accessible to People with Print Disabilities

Flat World Knowledge (www.flatworldknowledge.com), a publisher of expert-authored, open content college textbooks, became the first dedicated college textbook publisher to supply its digital textbooks to Bookshare (www.bookshare.org), claimed to be the world's largest online accessible library for people with print disabilities.

Approximately one to two % of the U.S. population has print disabilities that qualify for Bookshare. This agreement will benefit more than 75,000 Bookshare members who are blind or who have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe learning disability that affects reading. In addition, the open content license will allow other users to benefit from accessible content: students who are English language learners, those who have mild or undiagnosed disabilities, and those who benefit from multi-modal reading with a combination of simultaneous highlighted text and computer generated speech.

The agreement comes at an important time for thousands of cash-strapped postsecondary institutions that currently spend millions of dollars each year to scan and convert texts into accessible formats for their students with print disabilities. These institutions, which are already suffering from budget cutbacks from state, local and private funding sources, can access these textbooks from Bookshare at no cost.

The initial agreement covers 11 high-quality digital textbooks, mostly weighted toward business and economics, as well as an additional 50 titles under development. The titles under development, to be released over the next 2 years, cover general education subjects such as algebra, psychology, genetics, sociology, and media and society. Within 2 years, Flat World's Bookshare catalog will include most of the 25 highest-enrollment college courses.

Flat World Knowledge will supply its textbooks directly to Bookshare as digital XML files. This will bypass the typical paper-to-digital scanning process, eliminate scanning errors, and allow students to access the books more quickly. Bookshare will convert Flat World Knowledge books and make them available in DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Ready Format) formats. DAISY files are versatile electronic files that allow students with print disabilities to easily navigate through a book, manipulate the appearance of text and pages, and select preferred voices and their rate of speed. These options support individual reading styles and enable multi-modal reading with simultaneous text and computer-generated speech. Students with print disabilities and Bookshare memberships can read the texts via free ebook software from Bookshare, and all students with reading challenges can use other common DAISY software applications and hardware devices that support DAISY or BRF.

Source: Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare



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