Blind Readers Benefit with Internet Archive's Text-to-Speech Effort
As Yahoo! explains, most of the books that are digitized nowadays don't come in forms easily accessible to visually impaired readers, and those that are made for the blind are usually restricted to best-selling titles from recent years. If Kahle and his team are successful, blind readers will soon have fingertip access to a much deeper literary library, something that the blind community has been sorely missing. National Federation of the Blind president Marc Maurer estimates that only about 5-percent of all published books are currently available in a format that's readable for the visually impaired, and that even fewer are produced in Braille. With the Internet Archive's new free online library, Maurer remains confident that blind students will no longer have to rely upon having classmates read textbooks to them. "That has been the way most students have gotten through school," explains Maurer. "This kind of initiative by the Internet Archive will change that for many people."
For visually impaired readers, the major appeal of an expansive online library is simple and obvious: choice. Jessie Lorenz, an associate director at the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco, has been blind since birth. For as long as she can remember, the only books she's been able to read have been the select few that have been scanned by institutions or service groups. Now, however, she's eager to dive into the edgier, more controversial works in Kahle's library, which she calls "groundbreaking." Lorenz elaborates, "This project will enable people like me to choose what we read." And when she puts it that way, it's hard to think of a cause more noble than the one Kahle and his organization are spearheading. [From: Yahoo!]