“I cannot give you any idea of what these Talking Books mean to those of us who cannot read ordinary print.” This unsolicited testimonial was sent to the American Federation for the Blind after one of its members began to first listen to recordings of printed book editions. It was then a new technologocal innovation in the 1930s, but technological advances over the last century, and into the twenty-first, have now made almost any printed document accessible to individuals with print disabilities. These technological advances have also made these printed materials available in a multitude of languages that give it a global outreach.
The United States Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have been in the forefront of these efforts. Bookshare.org is funded by the Office of Special Education in ED, and has been a leader in this area for many years, and is now increasing its outreach around the world. AllChildrenReading.org is funded by USAID and is now supporting projects that include enhanced programs for children with print disabilities. Both of these programs utilize technologies that are most readily available in the areas where the children live. Mobile technologies play an increasingly important part in these efforts, particularly in the more remote corners of the globe.
Please visit the websites for these programs identified above. I had the opportunity to be involved in a small way in the development and growth of these projects during my years of federal service.