National Federation of the Blind and Scribd Agree to Collaborate to Make Reading Subscription Service Accessible to the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind and Scribd, Inc. have agreed to work together to provide access and make content available in Scribd’s subscription reading service and website accessible to the blind by the end of 2017. Available on desktop and mobile devices, Scribd’s service provides users access to ebooks, audiobooks and other published content for a flat monthly fee. As part of an agreement between the two organizations, Scribd will rearchitect its website to make most subscription content compatible with screen access software for the blind. Screen access software converts text-based content into Braille or spoken words. Scribd will also facilitate access to other types of documents in its collection when requested by blind users.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Lack of access to the printed word has traditionally been one of the most significant barriers faced by the blind, but electronic books and documents, when they are designed to be accessible to us, can provide access to more information than we have ever had in all of human history, leading to better education and employment outcomes, and helping us to live the lives we want. We are thrilled that blind readers will soon have access to Scribd’s vast digital library, and we commend Scribd for agreeing to work with us to make this happen. My wife Melissa, my daughters Oriana and Elizabeth, and I are blind, and we, along with my son Austin, eagerly look forward to delving into this new treasure trove of literature and information as a family.”

Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd said: “We are committed to building the library of the future and making it accessible to all. Our collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind is an important step in making this a reality, and we look forward to ensuring our technology is usable for the blind community.”

The agreement resolves litigation filed last year by the National Federation of the Blind and Heidi Viens, a blind mother from Colchester, Vermont. There is no admission of liability or wrongdoing by any party to the agreement. The plaintiffs were represented by Laurence Paradis, Haben Girma, and Rebecca Rodgers of the firm Disability Rights Advocates; Daniel F. Goldstein and Gregory P. Care of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein and Levy, LLP; and Emily J. Joselson and Michele B. Patton of the Middlebury, Vermont firm Langrock, Sperry & Wool, LLP.