Project makes a million books available to the blind

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A new initiative has pledged to double the number of books available to blind or dyslexic people, taking the number up to more than one million — from classic 19th century fiction and current novels to technical guides and research materials.

The Internet Archive is scanning books into its database and converting them into a format called Daisy, designed for the visually impaired. Files are downloaded to devices that translate the text and read the books aloud.

"Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire," said Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive.

"Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution."

Through automated scanning and conversion, Internet Archive technicians can scan more than a thousand books per day. They come from the collections of over 150 libraries.

"Blind people must have access to repositories of digital information if we are to reach our goal of becoming full and equal participants in society," said Dr Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.

"Access to the books that have been scanned by the Internet Archive in a format accessible to the blind will be another step toward that goal. We are excited about continuing to work with Internet Archive to make access to more books a reality."

Older books are available from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted Daisy library, while modern books can be accessed by qualified users through their NLS key — an encrypted code provided by the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

Books can be accessed here.