PR Newswire
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blind College Students in Maryland Will Have Textbooks on Time

By National Federation of the Blind

Governor O'Malley Signs Landmark Legislation Providing for Electronic Access

ANNAPOLIS, Md., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Maryland Governor
Martin O'Malley signed legislation today that will ensure that blind
college and graduate students in the state will have timely access to
textbooks and course materials in a format they can use. The legislation,
passed at the urging of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland,
provides for textbooks to be converted into an electronic format specified
by the Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The
electronic format will allow blind students to download their textbooks to
computers or Braille devices.

"In the past, blind students in Maryland have had to wait for their
books to be produced in Braille or in recorded form by volunteers or by the
state," said Dr. Michael Gosse, president of the National Federation of the
Blind of Maryland. "Technology now makes it possible for students to have
access to their books and course materials at the same time as their sighted
peers, as long as the books are in a standard electronic format.
This legislation requires that publishers provide electronic copies of their
books so that blind students can access them directly with a computer
or Braille device. It is a historic piece of legislation, because never
before have blind students had access to textbooks at the same time as the
sighted." Amy Herstein, a blind sophomore at the University of Maryland of
Baltimore County, said: "Today is truly a great day for students like me. I
will no longer have to worry about hiring someone to read to me or spending
hours scanning my textbooks into a computer. Having timely access to my
books means that I will never get behind in my course work simply because a
book isn't available in an accessible format. College is hard work, but my
life as a blind college student has just been made a whole lot easier."

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.

SOURCE National Federation of the Blind