National Federation of the Blind Endorses Google Books Settlement Before Congress
Urges Justice Department to Support Settlement
Washington, DC (September 10, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people and the leading advocate for access by the blind to digital information, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today that the proposed settlement between Google and authors and publishers regarding the Google Books project should be approved. The Google Books settlement will make millions of titles available to the blind and other Americans with print disabilities, providing more access to the printed word than the blind have had in all of human history.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, told the House Judiciary Committee: “The Google settlement is, for the blind and many others, the next step in the democratization of knowledge. That process began with the introduction of the printing press and then, for the blind, with the invention of Braille. Now technology is available that transcends the traditional limitations of both print and Braille, promising to make millions of titles available to the blind in Braille or any other format of our choice. The narrow business interests of Google’s competitors must not be allowed to block Americans who cannot read print from all of the opportunities that greater access to written knowledge will make available to them. It is time for the doors of the world’s great libraries to be opened and welcome to everyone.”
The National Federation of the Blind also urged the United States Department of Justice, which is reviewing the terms of the settlement, to support the agreement.
“The Google Books settlement is a major step forward in advancing the civil rights of blind Americans and others who cannot read print because it substantially increases our opportunities for education and employment,” President Maurer said. “The Justice Department, which is tasked with protecting the civil rights of all Americans, should respect the agreement of the parties to the settlement and allow its access provisions to be fully implemented. In doing so, the government will send a strong message that it values the participation of the blind in society and believes that we should have access to all of the information to which our sighted friends and colleagues have access.”