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Allison’s Notes on Jim fruchterman’s Main Menu Interview

March 3, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We profusely thank Allison from Benetech for her wonderfully written
summarization of Jim Fruchterman's Main Menu interview held on February 26,
2008 on ACB Radio Mainstream. Her message is below:

Hello Everyone,

I just finished listening to an interview of Jim fruchterman on ACB Radio.
I found it very informative. I realize that the audio format may not be
accessible to everyone, particularly deaf and blind individuals. I took
notes during the meeting, and would like to share them with others. I
believe I got down most of the important information. If you have questions
or comments, E-mail me at allisonh (at)

Jim fruchterman Interview.
ACB Radio
Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

* is a legal website where people can download accessible
digital books.
* Jim got the idea from his son using Napster in the 90s.
* Bookshare has several formats including Daisy, BRF (Braille), HTML, and
* 90% of books on Bookshare are donated by members.
* Bookshare books are text and not human narrated.
* VR Reader Soft does not yet work with Mac computers.
* Mac users can use Win or K1000 to use Daisy books. There are also hardware
* Bookshare memberships cost $75 for the first year and $50 for each year
after that.
* There are free memberships for students paid for by the department of
* Benetech is hoping to reach 100,000 students over time.
*Most textbooks will be available to all members except for NIMAC K-12
* NIMAC stands for National Instructional Material Accessibility Center. New
laws are requiring publishers to provide NIMAC quality books for all K-12
* Bookshare is beginning to add NIMAC books to the collection. These books
are only available to K-12 students.
* Jim said that he and several people advocated for other individuals, such
as blind parents, to have access to NIMAC books, but the publishers
* If one sends a book to Bookshare, we will scan it with a turn around of
approximately 3-4 weeks.
* Benetech is working on a partnership with a major book publisher that will
allow a user who is looking for a certain book to click a link on the site,
request the book, buy it, the publisher will scan it, and send to Bookshare
where it will be ran through OCR. Approximately 6-9 months in the works.
*Most of the books on Bookshare are "trade books."
* Bookshare has literature, best sellers, and nonfiction books.
* we have a growing collection of textbooks for both college and K-12
* Several thousand new textbooks will be made available over the next couple
of years.
* One can download newspapers and magazines from Bookshare. There are
currently 150 papers available.
* Bookshare is working on developing a collection of reference books.
* The Harper Collins books are available world-wide.
* WE are currently adding books from Harper Collins to the collection. We
have so many that we aren't able to get synopses uploaded with each one.
* Bookshare does not want to hold back on publishing books before a synopsis
can be written.
* Bookshare is working on a system in which a book's synopsis can be
automatically included with a book through one providing the book's ISBN.
This is not an option yet, but in the works.
* We are working on adding book synopses. If you would like to suggest a
synopsis for a book, E-mail it to Note that synopses
from Amazon and other websites are not permitted.
* Individuals can sign up to volunteer for Bookshare by submitting or
validating books. To learn more, visit our website or E-mail
* One does not need to be disabled in order to be a volunteer.
* Jim says that this year is a year of transition as we are adding new
books, new members, and new assistive technology.
* There are two Bookshare E-mail lists that interested individuals can join.
Visit the Bookshare website or to learn more.
* Jim encouraged everyone to sign up for Bookshare by visiting

This concludes my summary of the ACB Radio Jim fruchterman Interview. I
tried to record all the information, but it is possible that I have left
something out. If you have questions or comments, please contact me using
the info provided at the bottom of this message.


Allison Hilliker
Benetech (
E-mail allisonh (at)

The Benetech Initiative – Technology Serving Humanity – A Nonprofit

Categories: Uncategorized

4 opinions on “Allison’s Notes on Jim fruchterman’s Main Menu Interview

  1. \Just a correction and a comment.

    The format standard is NIMAS, not NIMAC. NIMAS stands for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. NIMAC is a development center for NIMAS.

    Also, while the cost of Bookshare is the same for all, the amount of material available to non-Americans is very, very limited. One might call this a “no foreigners allowed” sign.

  2. Bookshare’s situation with respect to foreign subscribers has nothing to do with discrimination or ignorance, but simply the copyright laws and possibly their interpretation. We don’t want to see anything happen that might potentially result in the damage or shutdown of this valuable service, so the laws are being interpreted in a conservative manner. Benetech is also working to include as many more subscribers and provide as much new content as possible under the laws and abilities to acquire permission from publishers. The only way around all this would be action on the part of the United Nations for an international copyright law exception.

    In this case, Benetech is not intentionally putting up a “no foreigners allowed” sign as they’re doing as much as possible to accomodate and certainly are not just ignoring you outright as though you don’t exist, which is often exactly what the “no blind people allowed” signs of inaccessible CAPTCHA represent.

  3. Given that Canadian copyright law allows for exemption in the same way American copyright law does, I have to take issue on this. So far, no matter who you talk to, it’s always someone else’s fault, and, no matter who’s fault it is, the blind reader is caught in the middle. Bookshare membership would be a ridiculously bad economic choice for a non-American unless he or she has money to burn. As a blind non-American, I don’t care whose fault it is, I don’t hold any side to be shiningly innocent, I am quite simply barred from reading a huge percentage of the books available. As someone who has worked in libraries for the blind for well over a decade, I also know how frustrating it is to have to re-record or re-braille a book that has already been recorded or brailled and is freely available seventy miles to the south of me. This represents a ridiculous amount of money being completely needlessly wasted, and if you ask anyone about it, all you get is the “Oh, it’s not our fault” response. Whoever’s fault it is, and it’s probably a combination, it still amounts to a “no foreigners allowed” sign. And I feel every bit as passionate about that cause as you do for your own cause. Until you have eighty to ninety percent of your reading choices stolen away from you , you can’t be expected to understand.

  4. I know I could write directly to Allison with this, and/or go back into the archives to see what was actually said, but I’m going to comment here instead. SMILE! I believe there may have been a slight error in the notes. The K1000 product is not available for the Mac, however the K3000 product is.

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