SIL LEAD wins prize for software solution to shortage of books for children with disabilities

Staff Photographer at SIL
SIL’s Bloom software will be enhanced to create accessible books for children with vision disabilities.

(April 2018) SIL LEAD won a global competition, the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge, to spur innovation to optimize production of books for children who are blind or have poor vision. Organizations awarding the prize areAll Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) and Pearson’s Project Literacy. SIL LEAD is one of two winners from a field of 15 proposals and will receive seed funding to implement and test their innovation.

The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge, launched in October 2017, is a response to the shortage of quality books in accessible formats for children who are vision impaired or have other disabilities that impact their use of printed materials.

SIL LEAD will work with SIL International to enhance SIL’s free, open source Bloom software so that new or existing books can be turned into accessible books. One of Bloom’s key features is simplicity, designed for users with basic computer skills.  

“In too many places technology becomes a barrier rather than an enabler,” said Dr. Paul Frank, Executive Director of SIL LEAD. "Bloom makes it easy for many more people to create mother tongue books with pictures and text that are appropriate to children’s culture, age and reading ability. These new enhancements will enable books to be created that also meet the needs of children with disabilities."

“The enhanced Bloom software, known as Bloom Enterprise, will be the tool of choice for creating quality accessible titles for local communities and large international corporations alike,” said Dr. Henk Prenger, business development consultant for SIL LEAD. “It will be by far the most cost-effective and easy-to use-solution available. We’re excited to offer this new capability and reach even more readers in under-served language communities.”


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“Access to quality reading materials is a prerequisite to achieving literacy early in life. But the current process to develop accessible reading materials is costly and inefficient, both of which discourage publishers from producing such materials,” said Deborah Backus, World Vision’s Senior Program Manager for All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development. “SIL LEAD has identified a promising solution to this challenge, and we are excited about the potential their innovation has to increase the global supply of books for children who need them.”

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SIL LEAD is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting local, community-based organizations use their own languages to improve their quality of life. SIL LEAD was created by SIL International to bring language expertise to international development. SIL LEAD manages internationally funded projects that connect language communities with those who serve them, promoting a world where all peoples have a voice in their own development—in their own words.

For more information about: Pearson's Project Literacy