Working for People with Sight Loss

NCBI Library is now a member of Bookshare & the ABC Consortium

Image of hands using a laptop with books stacked on the desk

As of December 2017, the NCBI Library has access to over 600,000 titles in alternative formats. The NCBI Library has joined Bookshare and The ABC Consortium, both international organisations and consortiums paving the way for access to international academic and leisure reading titles.

Bookshare based in the USA, offers the world’s largest collection of accessible titles. Books can be listened to in high quality text to speech. A physical Braille, or large print copy can be produced from a digital file, and texts can be read directly from an internet browser. All titles can be read on a suite of different devices including computers, tablets, smartphones and assistive technology devices. All Books that are available to the NCBI Library through Bookshare are copyright cleared and the Library would have access to approximately 340,000 accessible digital titles immediately. Bookshare in the USA is used mainly by students with sightloss and Libraries to access educational reading material.

The ABC Consortium is an alliance of WIPO and other international organisations for the blind. The service offers titles in accessible formats in over 55 languages making this a unique global repository for the search and exchange of digital copies. The ABC service currently requires that rights be granted from rights holders in order to allow the exchange of books from one country to another. Once the Marrakesh Treaty is ratified, this barrier will be lifted and the exchange of digital files between libraries for people with sight loss internationally will happen seamlessly. The Marrakesh Treaty is due to be transposed into Irish Law by the 11th of October 2018.

What does it mean for NCBI Library members?

This is good news for students in higher education and individuals with specific leisure reading requests. NCBI Library staff can search, download or make available in digital format requested titles. If you have a student in your area in higher education, or is considering enrolling in the next academic year, the Library would be more than happy to advise their course coordinator, disability officer or the student directly on the availability of their curriculum in digital formats.