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Review for Beneficent Technology Inc, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Rating: 4 stars  

I'm a quadriplegic due to neuromuscular disease, and a user of and volunteer for BookShare.

You can't imagine how happy I was to learn about Bookshare several years ago. I'd always been an avid reader, but the progression of my neuromuscular disease to my arms made reading difficult. A book stand helped for a while, but finally I had to ask others to turn pages for me. It became a burden to my family and caregivers to constantly drop what they were doing to turn a page, so I began seeking out ebooks. Few were available at that time, and I had trouble with the ones that were; they'd often be in a format that didn't work and play well with my voice recognition software.

Suddenly I had thousands upon thousands of books available to me, at a price I could afford, in a format I could read independently. And the best part? I could request books not already in the collection, and sometimes my wish would be granted. I began a reading binge that lasted a couple of years. Many were books I already had on my shelves, gathering dust because I couldn't pick them up.

Eventually I heard the call for volunteers, and decided to help BookShare clear out their queue of scanned books waiting to be proofread. Optical character recognition can only do so much; the software is thrown for a loop by everything from decorative fonts to images and completely flummoxed by columns, pull quotes, and tables. I vowed to bring each book that passed through my metaphorical hands up to the standard that a student writing a term paper would need, which is sometimes dry detailed work. (Oh, the war stories I could share of proofreading Mutual Funds for Dummies.) But I truly enjoy carefully reading a book, correcting any mistakes I see, as it gives me the opportunity to learn in depth about a subject I may never have given much thought to before.

The next step for Bookshare will be to expand their membership and volunteer pool, while developing their own ebook application so that all can enjoy a good book.

To paraphrase literary hero Miles Vorkosigan, access to books must never be abridged!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...


If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make sure their new ebook application for the iPad is accessible by voice controls

Role:  Volunteer & proofread and corrected scanned books for the blind, dyslexic, and physically disabled.