Para aqueles que são cegos, ou disléxicos têm doenças como esclerose múltipla e têm dificuldade em virar as páginas do livro, a leitura do mais recente best-seller ficou mais fácil.
Brewster Kahle, 49, a digital librarian who founded a virtual library called the Internet Archive in 2004, looks at a screen showing scanned books in San Francisco.
By Martin E. Klimek, for USA TODAY
For those who are blind, dyslexic or have diseases like multiple sclerosis and have difficulty turning book pages, reading the latest best seller just got easier.
The Internet Archive began scanning books in 2004 and now has more than 1 million available in DAISY format, or Digital Accessible Information System, a means of creating "talking" books that can be downloaded to a handheld device. Unlike books on tape, the digital format makes it easier for print-disabled people to navigate books because they can speed up, slow down and skip around from chapter to chapter.
About 7 million books are downloaded by Internet Archive users around the world each month, Kahle says. With 20 scanning centers in the USA and eight in countries around the world, the archive scans more than 1,000 books a day from more than 150 libraries, including the Library of Congress— the largest library in the world that also offers online digitalized collections of books, articles and newspapers.
The U.S. government, foundations and libraries provide funding for the Internet Archive. To help with the campaign, Kahle received a grant from the city of San Francisco to employ 100 "digital technicians" who work to scan books that people and organizations are donating for the project. The technicians were all formerly unemployed or underemployed single parents.
Free access to books
The digital library contains everything from classical literature like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to books on business and money like Suze Orman's 9 Steps to Financial Freedom to fiction best sellers like Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
"If someone is curious and wants to read books, we try our best to give them access to the books they are interested in," Kahle says.
He adds that the archive is different from Google's digital book-scanning because the Internet Archive is a "library" and Google is like a "bookstore," because Google offers only limited access to books under copyright at no cost.
"The Internet Archive encourages people to download all the public-domain books they want — free — and we are not looking to charge libraries for access to the books we have digitized from their collections," Kahle says.
Christopher Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, says the Internet Archive will benefit the 1.3 million blind people in the USA because it will increase the variety of books available to the population. Danielsen says only about 5% of published books are transferred to a format the blind can use.
Making life easier
Ben Foss, president of Headstrong, an advocacy group for people with dyslexia, and director of access technology at Intel, says the DAISY archive is useful for people like himself who find it challenging to read.
Foss, who has dyslexia — a language-based learning disability that makes reading difficult — used to fax his college term papers to his mother, who would help him proofread by reading the papers back to him over the phone.
Today, Foss uses an Intel Reader, a talking computer that is compatible with DAISY books.
"The archive offers pre-formatted material that I can load on a device and have it read aloud, making not only my life easier but also the lives of my friends and family who I would otherwise rely on for help," Foss says.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, dyslexia is the most prevalent learning disability in the USA, and 15% to 20% of the population has a language-based learning disability in which people have problems with reading, spelling and writing.
Only 25% to 35% of students with learning disabilities are provided with technology to support their learning, the center says.
Kahle says the Internet Archive is an invaluable resource for dyslexic, blind and print-disabled students who can use the digital book collection to download reference materials and write research papers. He encourages teachers to send in books that will be on reading lists for the next school year. If received now, the books can be scanned during the summer and available online when school resumes in the fall.
The Internet Archive will cover the expenses of scanning the first 10,000 books it receives but is asking people to donate to help continue scanning.
A Look at Books
To donate a book to the Internet Archive, visit openlibrary.org. Examples of available books:
Classics -- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-- Moby Dick by Herman Melville-- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Popular fiction-- Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell-- Dear John by Nicholas Sparks-- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Politics-- My Life by Bill Clinton-- Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton -- Ronald Reagan: The Wisdom and Humor of the Great Communicator by Ronald Reagan and Frederick Ryan
Título original: Millions of books get digitized for the disabled