Application Document

Book Boost: Access for All Challenge logo



Competition Opens: 26 October 2017

Closing Date: 19 January 2019

Challenge Overview

Learning to read is transformative and impacts a child’s lifelong opportunity to reach their full potential. However, around 250 million children of primary school age around the world are unable to recognize basic letters and numbers, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school.[1] Despite the importance of books in boosting foundational literacy skills, there is a global shortage of books for children in many mother languages. For the estimated 19 million children globally that are blind or have low vision[2] or the millions of children with other disabilities that impact their use of traditionally printed material, the shortage of quality books in accessible formats is even more severe.

Current technologies provide the potential for publishers to produce books that are accessible and designed for reading by everyone including those with print disabilities, but these are not being leveraged at scale.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) and Pearson’s Project Literacy are launching the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge to drive innovation in the publishing space to solve for these gaps. The challenge seeks business models that are rooted in optimizing and increasing the number of accessible books in the title development phase of the book value chain.

The competition partners believe innovative solutions in title development will improve the overall book value chain, resulting in a more cost-efficient process. An efficient value chain will increase the number of new, quality, accessible titles available to stakeholders involved in book distribution.

Not Enough Books

It is estimated that 250 million children of primary school age around the world are unable to recognize basic letters and numbers, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school.[3] For the more than 93 million children living with disabilities globally,[4] learning outcomes are often even lower as they are less likely to go to school and be provided with appropriate learning resources. Learning to read is transformative. After acquisition of a language, attaining reading becomes fundamental for continued achievement in future grades and impacts a child’s opportunity to reach their full potential as it influences future health, employment, and income amongst other factors.

A child’s path to literacy is influenced by many inputs. One critical input is ensuring children have quality books in languages they use and understand and formats they can access.[5] Children’s access to reading books – including leveled and decodable readers, story books, information books, or topic books (also referred to as supplementary reading materials) – is important in building foundational literacy skills.[6] Having the opportunity to engage with books is known to boost a child’s literacy skills.[7] They provide the opportunity to practice reading, introduce vocabulary, teach children about the local and global world around them and hopefully spark a lifelong reading habit.

Despite the importance of books in learning to read, and investments made in open-source tools such as authoring software and crowd sourcing mechanisms to support title development, there is a global shortage of books for children in many underserved languages and even more so in formats accessible to children with print disabilities. It is estimated that children should read a minimum of 50 book titles per school year to continue developing their reading skills[8] and while data on the number of books across languages is limited, it is widely regarded that there are simply not enough early grade reading books in many mother languages. For the estimated 19 million children globally that are blind or have low vision[9] or the millions of children with other disabilities that impact their use of traditionally printed material, availability of books in accessible formats is even more severe.

The Book Value Chain

Interviews with a wide range of content developers in developing countries, revealed that 20-30 new quality children book titles are generally developed each year, with a new title requiring between four to six months from inception to production. In many languages, there are a shortage of trained authors and illustrators with the skills and expertise to craft, illustrate, and produce a quality book. Adapting current stories into additional languages and contexts is also lengthy and complicated. On top of these challenges, adapting books that have already been published into formats accessible for children with print disabilities requires additional time and resources that have traditionally been carried solely by organizations supporting people who are blind, have low vision or other print disabilities.  

The book value chain is a large and complex process that broadly incorporates market research, title development, quality assurance, production, publicity, sales, procurement and distribution. These aspects involve multiple actors, and the flow of information is often both up and down the chain. The title development process incorporates author, illustration, editorial, graphic design and production actors. This challenge seeks to discover opportunities and solutions for cost-effectiveness in this process.  

Accessible Publishing

One inefficient aspect of current title and content production is the fact that making books accessible to all readers, including those with print disabilities, often involves duplication of effort or rework, resulting in inefficiencies, extra expenses and, as a result, an insufficient number of titles. Modern technologies, however, provide the potential for publishers to produce books that are designed for reading by everyone including those with print disabilities. “People with print disabilities can ‘read’ such digital books using ‘text to speech’ software on computers and mobile devices, or by using refreshable Braille readers, or by adapting the presentation of content (e.g., enlarging fonts or changing background color) using assistive technology.”[10] However if a book is not designed from the onset to include accessibility features the book is not adaptable to those with print disabilities without additional rework and expense. The technological features and guides on how to incorporate these features are available, and ACR GCD and Pearson seek solutions by publishers ready to incorporate these accessibility features at production. By shifting to inclusive publishing, the layer of adaptation to accessibility is removed, the book market grows, and more children have access to books in usable formats.

New title development models must be envisioned that incorporate these accessible requirements in an efficient and cost-effective process, resulting in the ability to increase the production of quality, accessible books to achieve the minimum recommended 50 quality accessible children’s books per child per year in each language.

Accessible Publishing Resources

Reports and Guides:


All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development and Pearson

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD), established in 2011 as a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision and the Australian Government, is an ongoing series of grants and competitions that leverages science and technology to source, test, and disseminate scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. For the past six years, ACR GCD has invested in sourcing innovative approaches to impact the global supply and distribution of supplemental reading materials. These investments have spurred the development of easy book creation software, book distribution tracking systems, technology-based distribution models, and a Global Digital Library, a web-based platform to provide quality reading resources for children. As part of ACR GCD’s commitment to ensuring all children learn to read, it also sources solutions that address barriers preventing children with disabilities from learning to read.

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. 

Building on these investments and commitments, ACR GCD and Pearson are partnering on the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge to spur innovative business models that reduce the title production costs of early grade reading books in accessible formats so all children have access to books and the opportunity to learn to read. 

The Competition

Ensuring children have books in the language(s) they use and understand and in formats they can access is critical to building foundational literacy skills and learning to read. The Book Boost: Access for All Challenge seeks innovative business models that incorporate accessibility components[11] from the onset, thus reducing the costs of retrofitting an inaccessible book after production and creating a more efficient and cost-effective process.  This optimization of the title development phase of the book value chain can contribute to an increased number of accessible titles as well as the quality of accessible titles. 

In alignment with the below Business Model Enhancement Plan requirements, successful applicants will demonstrate strategies to optimize content creation by using innovative, cost-effective strategies that illustrate potential production growth in quality, accessible titles. The competition phases, timeline and submission requirements are outlined below.

Competition Phases and Timeline

The competition will issue awards in a multi-phased approach matching key milestones.

Competition opens: October 26, 2017

Closing date for competition questions: November 27, 2017 at 14:00 EST

Responses posted: December 8, 2017

Phase 1 closing date: January 19, 2018 at 23:00 EST

Phase 1: Business Model Enhancement Plan Submission

Requires the submission of the solver’s Business Model Enhancement Plan (hereafter referred to as ‘business plan’) for the development and production of new children’s book titles. In this phase, up to five applicants will be awarded $12,000 and selected to move to Phase 2.

  • Closing date: January 19, 2018 at 23:00 EST
  • Finalists announced: Mid-February 2018

Phase 2: Virtual Presentations and Deliverable Timeline (Week of February 26)

The Phase 1 finalists will conduct a virtual presentation on the viability of their business plan to a panel of judges. Up to two finalists will be awarded $75,000 in seed funding to launch their innovative business model.

  • Virtual demonstrations: Week of February 26 – March 2, 2018
  • Finalists announced: Mid-March 2018

Phase 3: Business Model Enhancement Plan Implementation (March – September)

A subsequent payment of up to $75,000 will be awarded based on implementation deliverables and results. The date for payment distribution will be agreed upon based on the business plan. 

  • Business Model Enhancement deliverable timeline: Mid-March 2018
  • Announcement of results: Late 2018 


Submission for the Book Boost: Access for All Challenge are to be made online here.


Eligible applicants include, but are not limited to: for-profit and nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental (NGO) organizations and associations, academic and education research institutions, faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, and foundations. Government entities are ineligible for this opportunity but partnership with governments are encouraged. We are unable to award cash prizes to suppliers of goods and services that do not meet the nationality and source definitions as referenced in 22 CFR 228.11 and 12, specifically geographic code 937. Geographic code 937 currently excludes Cuba, Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Notes on Evaluation

The business plans will be evaluated across the eight key areas outlined in the Business Model Enhancement Plan Requirements.

Maximum score for any Business Plan: 100 points.

Knowledge Sharing for Sector Enhancement

To help foster innovation in the children’s book industry around the globe, the strategies developed and lessons learned from this competition will be shared publicly. Additionally, a research project will accompany Phase 3 of the competition to document impact and learnings. 

Business Model Enhancement Plan Requirements

I.  Non-negotiable Requirements

The below guidelines and requirements must be addressed in an applicant’s business plan submission to be considered.

  1. Proposals should base a business plan on a cost-effective title development model of accessible content. All digital content shall conform to common accessibility guidelines (e.g. EPUB Accessibility 1.0, EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines, DAISY’s knowledge base and Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB3 Files)
  2. The business plan should assume a free license (e.g. Creative Commons) for all aspects of the first iteration of quality, accessible titles (e.g. graphics/images, etc.). However, revenue may be generated in future iterations of content created.
  3. The Global Digital Library has defined a common set of metadata based on the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI). All content developed should include metadata based on this standard. All text needs to be encoded in UTF-8. This includes both metadata and textual content.
  4. The business plan should focus on content creation in mother languages, with preference for inclusion of under-served languages in developing countries.
  5. Content creation or management systems can be proprietary or open source.
  6. The business plan should include all elements of the title development process, including Illustration development.

II.  Summary, Concept and Managing Team (0-5 points)

1000-word limit

The business plan must contain an executive summary of the strategy to be employed to address the issue, a basic concept for implementation, and a description of the managing team and implementing parties. A description of the applicant’s or complementary existing products or services should be included if they pertain to the strategy and can be incorporated in the offering.

III. Market Analysis (0-10 points)

The Business Plan must contain the following elements: 1,000-word limit

  1. A description of the applicant’s existing book content creation and accessibility versioning process.
  2. Methods or products, services or processes that are being considered for innovation or optimization within the targeted area of the applicant’s operations and and/or business.

IV.  Strategy (0-25 points)

 2,500-word limit

The business plan must include a strategy that optimizes title development of accessible children’s books by demonstrating a more efficient, cost-effective process of accessible title development from onset. The per book production cost savings should be identified and supported with data that illustrates the new quality, accessible children’s book title growth per year.

V.  Collaboration (0-10 points)

1,000-word limit

Collaboration is often critical to the success of strong business models. Which entities or sectors does the plan rely on for success (e.g. private sector, government, educators, parents, publishers, etc.)?

VI.  Finances (0-15 points)

1,000-word limit

To demonstrate financial viability and innovation sustainability, a business plan should clearly outline all costs to reduce the costs per title, including: costs associated with the project plan; project management; training and support costs; content creation costs; hardware, software or other product costs; licensing fees; and recurring service costs.

VII. Timeline and Project Plan (0-15 points)

The business plan must detail the following elements: 1,000-word limit

  1. A timeline for the project that details:
    1. Requirements-gathering (i.e. technical facts needed to proceed)
    2. Analysis of existing processes and constraints to achieving desired approach
    3. Strategy and implementation plan
    4. Testing and quality-assurance, monitoring and evaluation.
  2. Risks associated with areas of the plan that are in direct control of managing team and mitigation strategies.

VIII. Sustainability (0-20 points)

1,000-word limit

The business plan should include a sustainability plan that details ongoing costs, training or support which contribute to efficiencies in production while increasing output. Supporting plans on evaluating quality assurance, that accounts for process and product improvement and management of key areas within the enhancement plan, should also be included. 

Terms and Conditions

Terms Used

Funder:  The All Children Reading Partners (World Vision, Inc. (WVUS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Government), and Pearson, and any people acting on their behalf.

Applicant: The eligible individual, team, business or organization that has submitted an Application into the competition.

Application: This term refers collectively to the Intellectual Property Rights and other information contained within an applicant’s submission.

  1. Eligibility. We are unable to award cash prizes to suppliers of goods and services that do not meet the nationality and source definitions as referenced in 22 CFR 228.11 and 12, specifically geographic code 937.  Geographic code 937 currently excludes Cuba, Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
  2. Submission Period. Applications will be accepted from October 26, 2017 to January 19, 2018, 23:00 EST. Any Applications after this date and time will be rejected without exception.
  3. Transmission of Applications. World Vision, on behalf of the Funders, will make reasonable efforts to transmit Applications to the judges; however, if the content of the application is not appropriate nor relates to the competition, the Funder reserves the right to exclude the proposed idea from the competition without notice.
  4. Additional Assistance. By submitting your Application you thereby agree to provide reasonable assistance and additional information concerning your submission to the Funder, if requested.
  5. Acceptance of Application and License to Use. Funder will notify you within a reasonable period of time after February 26, 2018 whether your Application has been selected by the Funder for an Award. The Funder will use an expert judging panel to judge all Applications against the Judging Criteria and determine which Application(s) best addresses the Challenge Requirements. The Funder has absolute and sole discretion to determine whether to accept your application, or any applications, and whether to make an Award, or multiple Awards. Applicant acknowledges and agrees that Funder is not responsible for and has no liability for the selection of a winning applicant. Applicant further agrees to hold Funder legally harmless regarding selection of a winning solver. Applicant agrees to hold Funder legally harmless for any advice it may provide as to the quality or suitability of submitted solutions and agrees to waive any claim against Funder for Applicant’s failure to win an award. The meeting of the Non-negotiable Requirements does not automatically mean that the Application will be eligible for an Award. Applications and descriptions thereof may not include trademarks or trade names of corporations or entities without the permission of their owners.
  6. Representations and Warranties. Applicant represents and warrants that:

All information provided by you regarding yourself and, if applicable, your business (“Applicant Information”) is true, accurate, current, and complete information and you will maintain and update the Applicant Information to keep it true, accurate, current and complete.

If you are an individual representing a business or other entity, you are authorized to enter into this Agreement on behalf of that business or entity.

Unless otherwise disclosed in the Application, you are the owner of the Application and the Application does not infringe or violate any patent, copyright, trade secret, trademark or other third-party intellectual property right.

Applicant warrants that all Applications under this Agreement including any intellectual property Applicant brings under this Agreement, does not and will not violate, infringe or misappropriate any intellectual property rights of any third party, governmental or judicial authority and does not infringe any copyright or other proprietary rights, including the right of privacy or publicity. Further, such Applications shall not contain material that is scandalous, libelous, obscene, or knowingly violates rights of privacy or publicity, or any other rights of any person, firm or entity, or is contrary to the laws of the United States or the country such work is performed in.

By entering, you represent and warrant that:

i.  Your entire Application is an original work by you and you have not included third-party content (such as writing, text, graphics, artwork, logos, photographs, dialogue from plays, likeness of any third party, musical recordings, clips of videos, television programs or motion pictures) in or in connection with your Application, unless (a) otherwise requested by the Funder and/or disclosed by you in your Application, and (b) you have either obtained the rights to use such third-party content or the content of the Application is considered in the public domain without any limitations on use;

ii.  No person or entity other than you has any right, title or interest in any part of your Application;

iii.  Unless otherwise disclosed in the Application, the use thereof by Funder the exercise by Funder of any of the rights granted by you under this Agreement, does not and will not infringe or violate any rights of any third party or entity, including, without limitation patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, defamation, privacy, publicity, false light, misappropriation, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, confidentiality, or any contractual or other rights;

iv.  You have all the rights, licenses, permissions and consents necessary to submit the Application and to grant all of the rights that you have granted to Funder hereunder, including the right for Funder to use and develop derivative works of and from the Application;

v. All persons who were engaged by you to work on the Application or who appear in the Application in any manner have:

a.  Given you their express written consent to submit the Application for unlimited, royalty-free use, exhibition and other exploitation in any manner and in any and all media, whether now existing or hereafter discovered, throughout the world, in perpetuity;

b.  Provided written permission to include their name, image or pictures in or with your Application (or if a minor who is not your child, you must have the permission of their parent or legal guardian) and you may be asked by Funder to provide permission in writing;

c.  No claims for payment of any kind, including, without limitation, for royalties or residuals, has no approval or consultation rights or any rights of participation arising out of any use, exhibition or other exploitation of the Application; and

d.  Not been and are not currently under any union or guild agreement that results in any ongoing obligations resulting from the use, exhibition or other exploitation of the Application; and

vi. By entering, you agree that: (i) all Applications become Funders property and will not be returned; (ii) Applicant (and its authorized representatives) have the unlimited right to alter and/or edit the Application or any part or element thereof; and (iii) Funder and its licensees, successors and assigns have the right to use any and all Applications, and the names, likenesses, voices and images of all persons appearing in the Application, for future advertising, promotion and publicity in any manner and in any medium now known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity.

vii. To receive an Award, Applicants will not be required to transfer their intellectual property rights in an Application to Funder; however, Applicants retained rights are subject to the following rights granted by Applicant under this Agreement:

a.  Each Applicant shall provide the Applicants with an open source version of the Application and made publicly available under the [Creative Commons CCO Universal (CCO 1.0) Public Domain Dedication]; and

b.  By participating in the Challenge, each Applicant hereby irrevocably grants to Applicants, and any third parties acting on an Applicant’s behalf, an irrevocable, paid up, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide right and license, with the right to sublicense on multiple tiers, and right to publicly display, publicly perform, copy, distribute, develop and create derivative works from the winning Application (s) for any charitable or public interest purpose, regardless of whether such use is commercial or non-commercial; and you understand, recognize and accept that Funder has access to, may create or has created materials and ideas which may be similar or identical to the Application in concept, theme, idea, format or other respects. You acknowledge and agree that Funder shall have the right to use such same or similar materials, and that you will not be entitled to any compensation arising from Funders use of such materials. In the event that your entry is identical or similar to the Application of another Applicant, Applicant reserves the right, at the sole discretion of the Funder, to either score one Application higher than the other subject to the Challenge Requirements and Judging criteria or to randomly choose an Application from all of those submitted which respond to the Challenge Requirements. 

  1. Indemnification. Applicant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Funder and any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, and all of the directors, officers, agents, contractors, volunteers and employees of the Funder and such affiliates and subsidiaries, against any and all claims, losses, expenses or liabilities, including, but not limited to, injury, death and/or damage to property, which may arise in the performance of this Agreement, except to the extent that such claims or liabilities arise from the gross negligence of Funder or its affiliates or subsidiaries.

Applicant will defend, indemnify and hold harmless the Funder, its Affiliates, and their respective directors, officers, employees and agents from and against all Claims to the extent that such Claims arise out of or relate to:

The breach of any representation, warranty or covenant by Applicant contained in this   Agreement;

i.  The negligent or willful acts or omissions of Applicant or its partners resulting in any bodily injury or death to any person or loss, or damage to tangible or intangible property; and

ii.  Applicant (or its partners) infringement, misuse or misappropriation of any third- party IP rights; Applicant (or its partners) failure to comply with applicable laws, rules or regulations.

8. Amendments. The Funder reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions, change the awards on offer, or revise the timeframes for or cancel the Challenge, at any time. Applicants will be notified of any such changes by email to the address which they have notified to the Funder, and/or on, but will be bound by the changes from the time they take effect, whether or not such notification is actually received.


[1] UNESCO. (2014a). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all. EFA Global Monitoring Report.
[2] WHO. (2014). Visual Impairment and blindness.
[3] UNESCO. (2014a). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all. EFA Global Monitoring Report.
[4] UNESCO. (2015).Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
[5] USAID. (2016). Landscape Report on Early Grade Literacy.
[6] Results for Development Institute and International Education Partners Ltd. (2016). Global Book Fund Feasibility Study.
[7] Results for Development Institute and International Education Partners Ltd. (2016). Global Book Fund Feasibility Study.
[8] Results for Development Institute and International Education Partners Ltd. (2016). Global Book Fund Feasibility Study.
[9] WHO. (2014). Visual Impairment and blindness.
[10] Accessible Books Consortium. Books for All. A Starter Kit for Accessible Publishing in Developing and Least Developed Countries.
[11]Guidelines such as EPUB Accessibility 1.0, EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines, and Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB3 Files
Print Friendly, PDF & Email