Digital content distributor OverDrive is announcing a new program for visually impaired readers, LEAP (Library eBook Accessibility Program). Through LEAP, OverDrive is offering a free one-year Bookshare account to qualifying patrons of libraries that offer eBooks from OverDrive. The accounts will allow patrons to download up to 20 accessible Bookshare eBooks per month.
There is a different selection available under this program than OverDrive’s standard eBook offerings. Though there is some overlap between Bookshare’s catalog and the standard OverDrive catalog, only Bookshare titles will be available through LEAP. Bookshare currently offers over 70,000 titles.
OverDrive currently uses Adobe Digital Editions reader software to deliver its eBooks. A recent change to the software removed text-to-speech (TTS) capability, making OverDrive eBooks inaccessible to the print-disabled. Library Journal reports that Los Angeles Public Library stopped purchasing OverDrive eBooks until they are accessible again. Adobe plans to restore TTS as well as introduce other accessibility features to its reader later this year.
OverDrive asserted its commitment to accessibility in a memo detailing its efforts, including the launch of the LEAP program, and mentioned the possibility of developing its own eBook reader software that would better meet the needs of the visually-impaired.
The LEAP program is open to all who have a print disability meeting BookShare’s criteria for membership. If your library participates, LEAP links and information will appear on the library’s Web site.