National Federation of the Blind Commends Parties to Google Settlement

November 17, 2009

Terms of Amended Settlement Agreement Will Revolutionize Blind People’s Access to Books

BALTIMORE, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Federation of the Blind today commended Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild for retaining important provisions in the amended settlement relating to the Google Books project that will allow people who are blind or have other print disabilities to access the books that Google makes available to the public. The amended settlement between Google and authors and publishers regarding the Google Books project, if approved by the courts, will have a profound and positive impact on the ability of blind people to access the printed word.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Access to the printed word has historically been one of the greatest challenges faced by the blind. The agreement between Google and authors and publishers will revolutionize access to books for blind Americans. With millions of books expected to be available through Google Books, this agreement means that blind people will have more access to print books than we have ever had in human history. The blind, just like the sighted, will have a world of education, information, and entertainment literally at our fingertips. The National Federation of the Blind commends the parties to this agreement for their commitment to full and equal access to information by the blind.”

“The Google Books project is designed to facilitate broad access to the world’s written knowledge,” said Allan R. Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). “It is only fitting that the settlement includes provisions that will make these materials available to the blind and others who cannot read print. These provisions certainly reflect the values of the AAP, and we are pleased that this settlement will mean greater availability of books to approximately 30 million Americans who have traditionally experienced barriers to accessing the printed word.”

The terms of the amended settlement, like the settlement agreement proposed last year, allow Google to provide the material it offers users “in a manner that accommodates users with print disabilities so that such users have a substantially similar user experience as users without print disabilities.” A user with a print disability under the agreement is one who is “unable to read or use standard printed material due to blindness, visual disability, physical limitations, organic dysfunction, or dyslexia.” Blind people, like other members of the public, will be able to search the texts of books in the Google Books database online, purchase some books in an accessible format, or access accessible books at libraries and other entities that have an institutional subscription to the Google Books database. Once the court approves the settlement, Google will work to launch these services as quickly as possible.

About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation’s blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind. Please visit our Web site: www.nfb.org.

SOURCE National Federation of the Blind

Source: newswire

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