Friday, October 05, 2007
Reading has been a lifelong passion of mine; my books have always been among my most prized possessions. So, when last year I lost the ability to turn the pages of books I felt a great sense of loss. I couldn't imagine not being able to read books anymore. I looked into electric page turners, but they turned out to very expensive and not so user friendly. But, then I thought of electronic books. I always preferred reading real books, so I wasn't too interested in electronic books. But, I realized I had to shed this bias and embrace the future if I was to enjoy reading again. I decided that e-books were the answer. While doing an internet search for e-books, I came across Bookshare.org. They make print books available on-line to individuals with visual impairments or people who are unable to hold or turn pages of a book due to a physical disability. This was the site for me. I signed up right away. To qualify, all I had to do was fax them a proof of disability signed by my doctor, stating that because of my disability I was unable to turn pages to read books. Once I was approved for membership, I payed a one time fee of $25 and a yearly fee of $50. I am allowed to download 100 books a month out of a growing collection of books which are scanned by members and volunteers and sometimes the owner of the copyright. It is legal because of an exemption in U.S. copyright law that allows the reproduction of publications into formats for the disabled. The books are available in two formats, DAISY and BRF. DAISY is a text format that can also read the text if needed; BRF is a Braille format. I downloaded a free reader called Victor Reader to read the books. It does a pretty good job, but I wish it was a little easier to use. But, it is better than nothing. I recommend Bookshare.org. It has allowed me to enjoy reading again.