All Children Reading and Pearson Announce Winners of Global Prize Competition to Increase Access to Children’s Reading Materials

The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge is Designed to Reduce the Production Costs of Digital Reading Materials, Including Books for Children Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2018 – All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD), Pearson, and Project Literacy today announced two winners of a global prize competition to spur innovation that optimizes the production process for children’s books, thereby reducing costs and making it easier for publishers to produce high-quality reading materials for all children. The competition winners, eKitabu and SIL LEAD, will be awarded seed funding to implement and test business models that have the potential to transform the book production process.

Launched in October 2017, the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge was a direct response to the shortage of quality books in accessible formats for children who are blind, have low vision or other disabilities that impact their use of printed materials. One of the major barriers to increasing access to accessible reading materials is the cost and complexity associated with retrofitting existing books into accessible formats, a standard practice in the current production process. Through the Book Boost competition, ACR GCD, Pearson, and Project Literacy sought innovations that would allow accessible books to be developed from the onset.

“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. “The winners of the Book Boost competition have identified promising solutions to this challenge, and we are excited about the potential these innovations have to increase the global supply of books for children who need them.”

eKitabu’s winning solution will facilitate a transition to a sustainable, born accessible book chain in Kenya by providing local content developers with tools, examples and prizes for creating quality, digital learning materials that are accessible for disabled students. eKitabu will first convert Kenyan early grade reading books into accessible digital formats using open standards and open source tools. From the learning gained, eKitabu will work with local publishers to adapt standards and tools to their own processes. eKitabu will also launch a competition to incentivize local authors and publishers to produce quality digital materials in accessible formats.  

SIL LEAD’s winning solution will enhance its existing Bloom software (developed through ACR GCD’s Enabling Writers competition in 2016), which streamlines the process for speakers of underserved languages to create new books or translate existing books into their language. Enhancements will include the addition of accessibility features and system support services, creating an online dashboard system to track title use, training materials, and a Bloom library website that meets accessibility standards.

Materials supported by both innovations are intended to meet the specifications to be included in the Global Digital Library, a web-based platform of reading resources to increase the availability of high quality reading resources in languages children use and understand. The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge and the Global Digital Library further supports the mission of the Global Book Alliance, a multi-stakeholder, international effort working to transform book development, procurement, distribution and usage so that no child is without books.

“As the world’s leading learning company, we’ve made a goal to ensure that 100 percent of our digital products are accessible to learners with print disabilities by 2020,” said Jennifer Young, Director of Global Social Impact Programs at Pearson. “The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge is helping to encourage other publishers to recognize the urgency and feasibility to prioritize accessibility in content development and we are proud to support the winners of the competition whose learnings in this process will help to bolster accessible content around the world.”

About All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, established in 2011 as a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision, and the Australian Government, is a series of competitions that leverage science and technology to source, test and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. For more information, visit www.AllChildrenReading.org.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Pearson’s mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning and believes that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. Pearson founded and convenes Project Literacy, a global coalition-based campaign to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy and to ensure by 2030 all people have the opportunity to fulfill their potential through the power of words. For more information, visit www.pearson.com or www.projectliteracy.com.

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