Bookshare is an online library of digital books and periodicals for people with print disabilities. It is an initiative of Benetch, a non-profit organization that combines the power of the human mind with a deep passion for social improvement. It addresses the needs of undeserved communities with innovative technology solutions. Individuals in this library can sign up for membership and access the library on their own, also organizations that serve individuals with print disabilities for example schools, libraries, community centers, etc. can sign up and provide access to their students or clients.

Bookshare’s goal is to raise the floor of access to information so that people with print disabilities can obtain a broad spectrum of print materials at the same time as everyone else. Bookshare puts emphasis on making the world of print accessible to people with disabilities. With a dynamic leadership team, dedicated members and capable partners, Bookshare is making this goal a reality.

More than that , Bookshare’s vision encompasses new technological developments as well as new applications of widely available technologies to stretch the power of technology for increased access to content.

Bookshare believes that all people, of all abilities and all ages, should have the same access to reading materials as everyone else. With the help of volunteers, publishers and partners of all kinds, Bookshare is making this vision a reality.

It is through the generosity of Bookshare donors that makes it possible for individuals with print disabilities to gain timely access to books and newspapers just like everybody else.

Bookshare operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law which allows copyrighted digital books to be made available to and shared by people with qualifying disabilities. It is a requirement by disabled individuals or the organization representing the visually impaired individuals to register as Members and provide a Proof of Disability by showing a professional certificate that an individual is disabled and eligible for Bookshare. This helps the library serve its defined and qualified members.

Bookshare's eligibility criteria are based on the ChafeeAmendment to the Copyright Law.  The Chafee Amendment basically makes it legal for Bookshare, a nonprofit entity, to provide accessible books to individuals with print disabilities.

Bookshare is a library that dramatically increases the accessibility of books, it allows its members to download books, textbooks and newspapers in a compressed, encrypted file and can be then read by use of adaptive technologies typically software that read books aloud or displays the text of the book on a computer screen, or by use of Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays. Anyone can search for books in the library. However, only Members can download copyrighted books.

Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities .This online digital library offers approximately 90,000 digital books, textbooks, teacher-recommended readings, periodicals and assistive technology tools, bookshare also provides links to over 80,000 copyrighted titles, and further simplifies the process of finding an accessible book, thus increasing ease of access to accessible books and periodicals for people with print disabilities.

Bookshare offers affordable membership to qualifying individuals with disabilities worldwide.

To ensure that all individuals with print disabilities have equal and timely access to print materials, bookshare provides multiple reading options for each of the communities it serves and these include.

People with Visual Impairments; they listen to books using a text-to-speech synthesized voice, read books in Braille, or access the material in large print, hard copy braille books can also be ordered, members with low vision can also read books in an enlarged font using either a screen magnifier or by opening the book in a software program that supports increased font size, color and contrast.

People with Physical Disabilities; they can read books on a computer or use a variety of portable devices, either visually and with text-to-speech as desired. With Bookshare, books are as easy as or easier to access than books on tape and may be controlled with an individual's single switch or other adaptive technology. This makes this library amazing for people with disabilities especially the visually impaired. For example any student who has a physical disability that affects his ability to read print such as an inability to hold a book or turn pages will qualify for Bookshare.

People with learning disabilities; Bookshare makes it possible for  its members with severe dyslexia to benefit from access to the full text of books in digital format, for multi modal reading with both visual and audio (through synthetic text to speech). Bookshare provides reading support to individuals with learning disabilities by use of great software to highlight text as it is read aloud, by changing margin, word, paragraph and line spacing, and setting custom background and print colors.

People with visual impairments, physical disabilities and/or learning disabilities can look to Bookshare to dramatically increase the quantity and timely availability of books and newspapers in accessible formats.

 Therefore, any individual with one of the above disabilities will be eligible for Bookshare.

In order to make print books accessible, Bookshare adds books to the digital library in a variety of ways for example;

  • Volunteers upload books they have scanned.
  • Publishers and authors grant Bookshare rights to their digital files.
  • In-house staff and partners scan and upload books.
  • Universities and schools contribute their scanned books.
  • Educators assign books to Bookshare from the NIMAC repository.

It is also noted that the books scanned and produced by Volunteers or in-house staff follow an efficient and well-developed process which includes; book purchase/procurement, book scanning and file conversion, proofreading and final review and upload to the Bookshare website.

Once the book is approved it is then made available to Bookshare members for download in two accessible digital formats from the Bookshare website: that is DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Refreshable Format), books can also be downloaded in text and HTML formats.

Important to note is that though this is a well refined process, Bookshare adds hundreds of new books to the library every month, ensuring a continual supply of fresh reading materials for Members.

How to find books in Bookshare library


A user can search all text including title, author and contents of every book in the library, a user can view materials by quick search or advanced search this gives more choices and allows searching by categories, there is also standard searching option in Bookshare library.


A user can browse by author, categories, new books, NIMAC sourced k-12 textbooks, special collections and newspapers and magazines.

Reading tools

Reading tools at Bookshare library are:

  • Victor Reader Soft Bookshare Edition by Humanware
  • READ:OutLoud Bookshare Edition by Don Johnston.

You can also read bookshare books in a browser with a screen reader (a good option for Mac Users), a user can also read by use of other DAISY reading softwares (like eClipseReader and Book Wizard), he or she can also read with a portable device, or listen to the book on an MP3 player.

A user can also create hard copy braille books with a braille embosser. This requires one to download the DAISY file and use with his or her braille translation software.

Additionally, through a partnership with TechAdapt Inc., one can order a Bookshare book in embossed Braille. Anyone in the United States can order these embossed books; he or she does not need to be a Bookshare member. However, a user may need to specify the book title, author, and ISBN number, if available. Important to note is that Newspapers and magazines are not available in embossed braille and only books that are "excellent" or of "publisher" quality can be embossed.

It is also important to note that Bookshare books are downloaded in the standard zip compressed format, and need to be “unzipped” before you can read them.

Community overview

With a diverse community like Bookshare, each group has its own focus and needs but however the library contains valuable information, links, news and resources for all members which may  include; educators: k12, educators: universities, Organizations, parents, volunteers, publishers and authors.

It should not also be forgotten that, Bookshare offers a range of training opportunities from complimentary 'Getting Started' webinars to newly developed comprehensive professional development workshops.

Also, apart from the website, Bookshare has a blog where other questions are addressed. Bookshare also allows the user to share information for example a user can email a friend an article he or she considers relevant to that persons information needs.Please find bookshare website here for more information