National Federation of the Blind Commends Parties to Google Settlement
Baltimore, Maryland (November 18, 2009): 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.”
“Every author wishes to be read as widely as possible, so this settlement presents great benefits to our members,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “Among the most important of these benefits is that works will become available to populations that have traditionally been denied or had only limited access to them, including the blind and others with print disabilities. We are pleased that these readers will be able to discover new works because of this historic agreement.”
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.