How did an Occupational Therapist Help to Build Statewide Delivery of Accessible Instruction Materials?
In 2010, the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) developed True AIM, a statewide initiative to ensure that all students with qualified print disabilities receive timely access to accessible instructional materials (AIM). To deliver on this promise, the Iowa DOE partnered with Benetech, Bookshare’s parent nonprofit.
Nancy Dunn, an occupational therapist and Bookshare Mentor Teacher, supported this initiative at the Iowa Heartland Area Education Agency. She and others on the assistive technology team trained educators about the benefits and delivery of accessible instructional materials. Their efforts helped to build capacity in more than ten Iowa districts. What did Nancy and the team do?
- Assisted with interventions to determine which students qualify for Bookshare and are able to benefit from electronic text
- Helped educators and parents determine the need for assistive technology and reading tools to support student learning
- Supported IEP teams to document the need for accessible materials
- Provided training to school staff and parents on accessing Bookshare and downloading books through Organizational and Individual Memberships
“I always begin my training by telling participants that Bookshare is free to students who qualify through federal awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs,” says Nancy. “It takes time to set up the district Organization Membership and build capacity, but once it’s done, it’s easy to download books for students. They don’t wait for books anymore and teachers do not have to send books to our central office for scanning. Bookshare has helped us remove some of the barriers of easily providing accessible instruction materials.
“I follow Bookshare in Action newsletters and sign up for webinars to hear about the latest tools and enhancements. I also network with other mentors who share best practices about their districts,” she said. “I am proud of the Iowa True AIM initiative and our accomplishments to build statewide capacity and to enable more students to reach their goals.”
Last year, a high school senior with a physical disability became an Individual Member of Bookshare. Nancy believes it was one of the best things she ever did to help a student. “He has so many interests, but cannot hold a book steady,” she said. “We explored many devices before we found a solution. Using the iPad mini, he could activate the keys with his knuckle or a stylus. Now, he independently accesses books using the Read2Go app and has a better chance of becoming a lifelong reader. I felt so good about him learning to use technology and having access to Bookshare before he graduated!”
About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program
This program began in 2010 to support the nation’s top teachers and assistive technology specialists with training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online accessible library and reading technologies. Over 500 educators and specialists have now joined the network and work in their local communities and schools to advocate for students with print disabilities. Bookshare Mentor Teachers also develop and share best practices with other teachers across the United States.
Learn more at http://communications.bookshare.org/mentor-teachers/.
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Sign up for an online course through Perkins to learn more about training others on Bookshare best practices!
Perkins eLearning is offering a five-week online course starting January 26, 2015. Sign up for this online course before December 31, 2014, and take advantage of an early bird discount!
Upon completing the course, you can earn 25 continuing education credits. This course is geared toward assistive technology specialists, trainers, teachers, and other educational specialists interested in gaining the tools and resources necessary to train others on Bookshare.
There’s nothing more satisfying than curling up with a good read. So, we’ve selected these fun Thanksgiving titles for Bookshare readers of all ages to learn why the holiday is so special. As we turn indoors for some good ole fashion fun, we hope your holiday is warm and enjoyable!
You never know what you can learn from a good book. Gobble, gobble!
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For younger readers:
For adult readers:
Bookshare Web Reader, the popular and free reading tool, can now be used on current versions of the Safari browser for Mac!
With this newest update to Bookshare Web Reader, Mac users can use Safari to find, open, and read Bookshare books directly within the browser. In addition, they can also listen to words read aloud and follow along with synchronized word highlighting. This full set of reading features was previously only available only on Google Chrome.
This is a particularly great update because in addition to using the Safari browser, Mac users can take advantage of high-quality voices available in Mac OS X!
What other improvements were included in this update?
- Access to full reading features on Safari.
- On current versions of Google Chrome, simply find a book and select “Read Now.” You no longer need to install the Chrome extension the first time you use it.
- Select voice preferences on Safari and Chrome.
Note that Bookshare Web Reader can still be used with screen readers on other browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer. Learn more about compatible browsers. In addition, Bookshare Web Reader is not yet fully supported on mobile devices, but you can learn about other compatible mobile reading tools.
Visit Bookshare today and try reading a book with Bookshare Web Reader on Safari or Chrome!
In honor of Veterans Day, we salute Timothy E. Hornik, a Bookshare member and U.S. Army Captain who has a lifelong ambition to help Veterans who are visually impaired make successful transitions to civilian life.
In 2002, Tim earned his military commission from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. In September 2004, he was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. That same year, sniper fire caused Tim to become blind.
For the next eight years, Tim remained on active duty managing operations, and he was able to fulfill his desire to serve others. Today, he is a Licensed Master of Social Work at the University of Kansas and is pursuing his PhD in Therapeutic Sciences.
Tim is also the cofounder of TAVVI, The Technology Association for Veterans with Visual Impairments, a working group under the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) in Kansas. TAVVI develops programs and services to offer educational resources and personalized transition support to disabled Veterans pursuing postsecondary education.
The Blinded Veterans Association reports statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs that there are over 158,000 visually impaired Veterans in the U.S. This rate may increase by 7,000 each year. Today, more than ever before, Veterans are taking advantage of military-related educational programs and enrolling in universities, community colleges, and vocational institutions.
Tim estimates that within two years, TAVVI may serve 400 to as many as 800 Veteran students. To develop his program, he networks with colleagues at Veterans organizations and universities and advocates for digital accessible ebooks and technologies to be readily available for Veterans with print disabilities. Among the educational resources he recommends is Bookshare’s online library. Membership to Bookshare is free for Veterans with qualified print disabilities who attend U.S. schools. Tim likes the varied collection of educational ebooks, technical and professional journals, and popular sci-fi he reads for pleasure.
Tim’s preferred technology device for reading accessible books is his iPhone with the Voice Dream Reader App. He was also an early adopter of Bookshare’s Read2Go app. Tim likes accessible books with synthesized text to speech (TTS) because the uniformity of voices helps him to read and skim information fast. He also recommends that fellow Veterans read titles in Bookshare’s special military collection to help them better understand the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. Titles Tim has read and recommend include:
- Disability in Passing, Blurring the Lines of Identity
- Disabled Veterans in History
- Veterans in Higher Education: When Johnny and Jane Come Marching to Campus
In addition to his work at TAVVI, Tim writes a blog, Blind, but Not Alone, and has published a series of guides on features and applications for visually impaired iOS users. Last year, he represented wounded warriors at the M-Enabling Summit and provided evidence for a congressional hearing on the VA’s 508 usability survey for screen readers. Tim also downloads children’s books from Bookshare to read with his young daughter and spends time volunteering with these organizations: Heartland Regional Group of Blinded Veterans in Kansas, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and the University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare.
The Bookshare staff would like to thank Tim and all Veterans for their extraordinary service to our country. Together with Tim and organizations like TAVVI, we extend our thanks and salute university programs and organizations that bring people, resources, and information to serve disabled Veterans.
Happy Veterans Day!
For more information about Bookshare, visit www.bookshare.org or email Veterans@bookshare.org. We appreciate your support in helping Bookshare add more titles and collections to the library for Veterans to read. Please donate today! Thank you.