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Bookshare’s Braille Gets an Upgrade!

2014 July 16
by Bookshare Team Member
Image of the Braille Alphabet represented in a sequence of dots.

Braille Alphabet represented in dot sequences.

Notice anything new about how you read Bookshare titles in braille? It’s gotten even better. Reading in electronic braille is popular among many of our members, who download titles in BRF, or braille ready format, on compatible reading tools.

The Bookshare team is committed to braille literacy and providing braille content that is high quality and timely. If you want to learn more about Bookshare’s position on braille literacy, read this post titled “On the Future of Braille: Thoughts by Radical Braille Advocates,” written by Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Benetech’s Global Literacy Program.

About the Upgrade

In a recent update, our development team fixed a lingering issue that nagged our braille readers. Members who previously downloaded and read our titles in BRF would encounter extraneous dot fours adjacent to punctuation symbols that were often mistranslated. This interrupted an otherwise smooth reading experience. We are pleased to say that this problem has been eliminated, and Bookshare members who read titles in BRF can now enjoy a significantly improved braille reading experience. We’ve also made improvements to our systems that produce BRF files and updated our LibLouis conversion software to enable future improvements. Our goal is to keep getting better, so if you want to share some ideas on how we can improve, please comment in this blog.

What are Bookshare members saying about the braille upgrade?

Bookshare member Sharon von See says, “I’ve been able to download a few novels in Bookshare and have found the translation of the braille to be much improved! It’s a wonderful resource for braille readers to download and read literature at the push of a button.”

Rob Turner, a Bookshare staffer and braille reader says, “Reading braille books is much smoother now that the extra dot fours and mistranslated punctuation marks are gone. I read lots of Bookshare titles, so I appreciate this update.”

P.S. For specific issues with particular books, please submit a book quality request so our team can follow up.

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"For more product and support updates, cool member stories, events and popular books, stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels.

Third Grader Reads Fast with His Fingers and Inspires Teaching Assistant to Learn Braille

2014 July 3
by Bookshare Team Member
carissa and brennan

Teaching Assistant, Carissa Reed and Brennan Draves in the classroom.

Brennan Draves, a third grader at Mackensen Elementary School, who also receives educational services at Bay-Arenac ISD in Michigan, reads his assignments fast with his fingers. He uses a BrailleNote device and books from Bookshare. Carissa Reed, his teaching assistant, says, “Brennan is a whiz when it comes to learning! He’s just an awesome and intelligent little guy and a sponge for information. He inspires me and everyone he meets!”

Brennan has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and blindness. Brennan says, “Bookshare has made my homework easier. With my BrailleNote, I skip the notes in the beginning and go right to my reading assignment. I’m reading faster and my book bag is lighter too, now that I don’t have to carry heavy Braille books around.”

As a paraprofessional teaching assistant, Ms. Reed works with general and special education teachers across seven schools to support students with vision impairments like Brennan. “He is a big reason why I learned Braille,” she says. “And why I signed our district up to get books from Bookshare.

Ms. Reed learned how to use Bookshare by watching the “Learn It Now” video tutorials on YouTube. She also made cheat sheets of how the online library works to help other teachers. Many teachers who use Bookshare assist other teachers and take part in Bookshare’s Mentor Teacher Program.

Today, Brennan reads constantly and learns as quickly as sighted children. His reading skills are above average, and he has passed all of his Accelerated Reader tests. He is on track to be an honor roll student. “He makes me want to do my very best job of teaching and to go above and beyond my own expectations,” said Ms. Reed.

“This year, Brennan needed a textbook and 80 guided chapter books on historians, like Harriet Tubman and Alexander Graham Bell,” said Ms. Reed. “I requested the books and within a month, the staff notified me that they were available. I downloaded and organized them using the Reading List. This saved me time. Bookshare is a blessing for students and a cost saver for our district.”

Ms. Reed also works with students with print disabilities who use iPads to read. “The technologies have made learning a little faster and easier for them to download their assignments using Bookshare’s Read2go app. They fly through their homework, which gives them a bit more learning independence.”

Lindsay and Sloan in school

Brennan with his mom, Lindsay Draves at school.

Brennan’s mom, Mrs. Lindsay Draves, says, “Bookshare and the BrailleNote has made it possible for my son to be excited about learning. His love of reading and ability to absorb information enables him to do very well in school and he loves math and science. This year, he wrote his first digital book about his family, teachers, and friends. Ms. Reed is right, he’s just an awesome little guy and we are very proud of him!”

The Summer of Sleuths Contest Is Live. Enter Today!

2014 June 16

It’s time to solve some clues!

The Summer of Sleuths reading contest for U.S. Individual Members has officially launched! Put on your favorite detective cap, pull out your magnifying glass, and get ready to inspect some great detective books in Bookshare. logo for Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest

Through Friday, August 1st, contestants will download, read, and solve clues within great detective books from Bookshare. For every clue you answer correctly, you will be entered into a drawing for awesome prizes like detective gadgets, gift cards and free year-long Bookshare memberships! (Read our initial contest announcement to learn more about the contest).

Important Tips for Summer Sleuths

How can you make sure you have a fun and successful summer contest? Follow these tips!

  1. Make sure your Individual Membership is up-to-date. Sign up or renew today!
  2. Download the contest books for your contest level. Better yet, add them to a Reading List!
  3. Preview the contest clues, read the books, and find the answers.
  4. Submit your contest entries (you can submit entries all at once or start and save entries for later).
  5. Sign up for the notification list to get update and tips throughout the summer.

Most importantly, have fun!

Spread the Word!

Tell us what books you’re reading for the summer contest on Facebook and Twitter (make sure to use hashtag #SummerOfSleuths). You can also check out our Bookshare on Pinterest and share with other people with print disabilities and detective story enthusiasts!

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels for news of the latest thrillers and popular bestsellers, product updates, member stories, events, and much more to come.

 

From the Eyes of Fathers…Honoring Dedicated Dads!

2014 June 13
by Bookshare Team Member

We’re honored to feature two proud dads of Bookshare students. Mr. Drake Leong from Palo Alto, California, is the father of Kevin Leong, and Mr. Andrew Cooper from Austin, Texas, is the father of Ben Cooper. Both dads care deeply about their sons and are intimately involved in their education and use of Bookshare. These fathers represent the best in parental dedication to students with print disabilities. Today, we’re sharing their thoughts about their sons.

Image of Mr. Drake Leong

Mr. Drake Leong

Drake Leong

“Life before Bookshare was very difficult for my son,” says Drake. Kevin suffered an unexpected brain injury when he was little and had to relearn lots of things, including how to read. He could not read standard print in school because it was too difficult to keep up. “Using accessible books and an iPad, he is back on track and doing well in school.”

Kevin is a whiz on lots of different technologies. Sometimes he usImage of Kevin Leonges his iPad with Bookshare’s Read2Go app and finds it helpful to enlarge the font and set preferences to high contrast to read better. “Accessibility and portability are two very important factors in Kevin’s ability to learn and to be independent,” says his dad. “He likes to read digital books directly on the Internet with the Bookshare Web Reader and uses his iPhone to read on the go! It’s wonderful to watch Kevin’s progress and know that he is well on his way to accomplishing his dreams.”

Image of Andrew Cooper

Mr. Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper

“Bookshare has been a vital component to our son’s academic journey,” says Andrew Cooper. “Knowing and understanding Ben’s challenges with dyslexia was a first step to help our family identify the right solutions for him. We always knew that he was much smarter than his reading ability suggested and learned about this through scientific research conducted by Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.  At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to educate children the best way we know how!”

Image of Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper

As a technology entrepreneur, Mr. Cooper knows firsthand that technology holds limitless possibilities for kids with print disabilities, such as blindness, low vision, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability like dyslexia. “People are just now learning about the benefits of accessible materials,” he says. “These resources made a world of difference for our son. Ben no longer guesses at words and can focus on understanding the content. His comprehension skills are at an advanced college level and we are very proud of him!”

Happy Father’s Day to All!

The Bookshare team thanks all moms and dads and knows that you support your children in incredible ways. Tell us your stories by posting a comment on this blog, and we will follow up. We also invite you to join engaging parent discussions on our social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

For those who want to help other families directly, learn more about our new Parent Ambassador Program. Parent ambassadors share, guide, and learn from other parents to find the best strategies, resources, and technologies to support their children with print disabilities.

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels for news of the latest thrillers and popular bestsellers, product updates, member stories, events, and much more.

 

 

Support Question of the Month: How Do You Renew Your Individual Membership?

2014 June 10
Bookshare Logo for Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest - Image of a magnifying glass over paw prints.

Logo for Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest

Renew Your Bookshare Membership Now!

Our June support blog on how to renew your Bookshare Individual Membership is just in time for our Summer of Sleuth’s Reading Contest.

Have you tried logging into your account, but were unable to download books? It’s possible that your Bookshare membership has expired. Make sure your membership is up-to-date by following the easy steps below and join us for a super fun summer reading event! The contest begins on June 16th.

Steps to Renew as a Student Member:

1. Log into Bookshare, select “My Account” in your Task Bar.

2. Choose the “Student Status” link, update your school information, then select Submit.

Steps to Renew as a Non-Student Member:

1. Log into Bookshare and select “My Account.”

2. Select the “Subscription” link, then complete the Renew Your Subscription section.

If you’re logged into your account on a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone, it may be necessary to first log out and then log back in to your Bookshare account for your membership renewal to take effect.

For more information or to get answers to commonly asked support questions, visit our Support Center. It’s chalked full of great information! You can also submit questions to our support team directly. Please do share your questions with our Bookshare community by posting a comment in this blog, on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll address it in a future post.

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Subscribe to our blog to get answers to monthly support questions and stay connected with Bookshare on all your favorite social media channels for product updates, cool stories, events and popular titles.

P.S. The Bookshare Web Reader could be an important tool for you in our Summer Sleuths Reading Contest.

Mr. Mercedes…NEW Stephen King Thriller!

2014 June 4
by Bookshare Team Member
Mr. Mercedes book cover. Image of an umbrella dripping with blood.

Mr. Mercedes book cover. Image of an umbrella dripping with blood.

Nothing will start your summer reading engine faster than a suspenseful thriller! And who writes them better than Stephen King? Fans of mystery and suspense fiction are revved up for King’s latest book, Mr. Mercedes, just released! We’re delighted to have this new thriller available to download in the Bookshare collection of over a quarter million titles! If you are a Stephen King enthusiast, the good news is that Mr. King has forged into a whole new category of books—crime dramas. This one is being described as his first true detective novel. For this reason, we felt driven to include it in our Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest, which features an array of detective and mystery books for U.S. Individual Members to relish this summer. Titles for U.S. Adult Readers Mr. Mercedes is one of 15 Summer of Sleuths titles that adults can enjoy reading for the contest. The book is in good company, with classic works by masters of mystery and suspense such as Lee Child, Harlan Corban, J.D. Robb, Clive Cussler, and James Patterson. Titles for U.S. Students in 9th Grade and Up Adolescent readers who participate in the contest can choose from an impressive list of thrillers, including Vanished, Paper Towns, Nobody’s Secret, and Alliance, to name a few. Titles for U.S. Students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade Younger students who are individuals members can participate in the Summer of Sleuths Contest  and navigate 15 equally intriguing mysteries with fictional young detectives such as Cam Jansen, Nancy Drew, Theodore Boone, and Encyclopedia Brown. Answer Clues to Win Contest Prizes! To participate in the contest, Bookshare Individual Members will submit answers to questions from these books. The more answers you submit, the better your chances of winning cool sleuth-worthy prizes! If you haven’t already done so, sign up for notification of the Summer of Sleuths Contest. Then, download books and search for answers to these clues and questions. You can submit your answers on the contest website between June 16th and August 1st. If you choose to read Mr. Mercedes, let us know if you think Stephen King will find a space in the superstore-sized parking lot of crime dramas. Tell us why on Facebook, Twitter (hashtag #SummerOfSleuths), and Pinterest. people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels for news of the latest thrillers and popular bestsellers, product updates, member stories, events, and much more to come!

Penguin Group U.S.A. Pushes Bookshare Collection Above a Quarter Million Titles!

2014 May 30
by Bookshare Team Member

Penguin Group U.S.A. has signed an agreement giving Bookshare worldwide rights to their titles. Penguin has uploaded over 16,500 titles, pushing Bookshare’s collection to over a quarter million titles. Wow! Stay tuned for an official announcement of this major milestone.

Robin Seaman

Robin Seaman

Robin Seaman, Director of Content Acquisition, a Benetech Global Literacy Initiative, said, “Bookshare members will be dazzled by the enormous range of content from one of the world’s most distinguished publishers. Penguin’s titles run the gamut from literary classics and award-winning nonfiction titles to today’s most thrilling bestsellers and beloved children’s books.”

We’re particularly happy to add to Bookshare’s collection the Puffin series of books for younger readers—with images! Now joining the Bookshare collection are bestsellers from Elizabeth Gilbert, Nora Roberts, Harlan Coben, Stuart Woods, Khaled Hosseini, and dozens of the hottest authors publishing today.

Book cover of the Complete Father Brown series.

Book cover of the Complete Father Brown series.

Readers will also be delighted with such classics as The Penguin Complete Father Brown Series by G.K. Chesterton. They will also get to read such popular teen titles as Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead, Matched by Ally Condie, and The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller.

Here’s a sneak preview of best-selling authors from Penguin now in our collection:

John Green: The Fault in Our Stars

Ann B. Ross: Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeovers

Book cover for The Death of Money

Book cover for The Death of Money.

James Rickards: The Death of Money

Stuart Wood: Carnal Curiosity

James MacBride: The Good Lord Bird

Sue Monk Kidd: The Invention of Wings

Zac Bisonnette: Good Advice from Bad People

Thank you, Penguin Group U.S.A.!

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Join us on Facebook to discuss your favorite Penguin titles. For more product updates, cool stories, events, and popular books, stay connected to Bookshare on all our social media channels.

 

Bookshare Community Rocks First Live Twitter #PoetryJam!

2014 May 27
Image of the words Poetry Corner with a quill and ink bottle.

Image of the word Poetry Corner with quill and ink bottle.

In April, we celebrated National Poetry Month by featuring poets and poetry books in our social media channels. We also invited our Twitter friends to join us in creating poetry online together.

During the week of April 21st through 25th, we switched our focus from reading poetry to writing poetry and experimented with an interactive Twitter event: our first-ever Bookshare Community Poetry Jam!

You, our fun-loving Bookshare members, educators, volunteers, parents, and accessibility advocates, rocked this event with creativity, sentiment, humor, and love. During the week, anyone could tweet lines of poetry day or night using the #PoetryJam hashtag.

Our staff suggested daily themes, retweeted participants’ poetry, held poetry jam “office hours” for live interaction, and tweeted a few poems of their own. With plenty of real-time interaction and poems both serious and silly, we consider our experiment a success! Thanks to all who participated or helped to spread news of the event.

Here are just a few of the wonderful poems you tweeted:

@CanesEagle1 (Jimmy Vonderlinden): “listening is reading, and with reading comes a more open mind.”

Image of tweet by Jimmy Vonderlinden

Poem tweeted by @CanesEagle1 (Jimmy Vonderlinden): “listening is reading, and with reading comes a more open mind.”

 

 

Poem by Madilyn, age 9, tweeted by educator @WePerceive: “An octopus wearing a hat; a cat sitting on a mat. A giraffe reading a book about how to cook.”

Image of tweet by Madilyn

Poem by Madilyn, age 9, tweeted by educator @WePerceive: “An octopus wearing a hat; a cat sitting on a mat. A giraffe reading a book about how to cook.”

 

 

 

Earth Day haiku tweeted by @keregan (Kerri Regan): “Listen to the birds, Feel the breeze ruffle your hair, This is your planet.”

Image of tweet by Kerri Regan

Earth Day haiku tweeted by @keregan (Kerri Regan): “Listen to the birds, Feel the breeze ruffle your hair, This is your planet.”

 

 

 

Poem tweeted by Brie of @Fedora_Outlier: “Read with out your eyes. Listen to the fedorawords spoken out loud. Books are always a joy.”

Image of tweet by Brie at Fedora Outlier LLC

Poem tweeted by Brie of @Fedora_Outlier: “Read with out your eyes. Listen to the words spoken out loud. Books are always a joy.”

 

 

Poem tweeted by @JonDresner: “I have many books I have not read all of them ...but I jonathanstill want more.”

Image of tweet by Jonathan Dresner

Poem tweeted by @JonDresner: “I have many books I have not read all of them… but I still want more.”

 

 

 

 

For extra fun, we used Storify to turn each day’s tweets into a story.  You can link to them below and let us know which poems are your favorites by leaving a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter.

Day 1: Monday reading and the craving for chocolate bunnies.

Day 2: In celebration of Earth Day, nature-themed haiku.

Day 3: For World Book Day, poems about books and authors.

Day 4: Poems incorporating book titles.

Day 5: Bookshare haiku and poetry jam wrap-up.

Get Ready for More Fun!

Spyglass with dog prints. Text reads Bookshare Sleuths Contest

2014 Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest Logo

Are you ready for more fun Bookshare events and contests? Our Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest is just about to start!  Stay connected to Bookshare on our social media channels for more product updates, cool stories, events, and popular book titles.

 

Bookshare Individual Members – Get Ready for the Summer of Sleuths Contest!

2014 May 20
by Bookshare Team Member
Spyglass with dog prints.  Text reads Bookshare Sleuths Contest

2014 Summer of Sleuths Reading Contest Logo

Are you ready to solve this summer’s most intriguing mysteries? Get ready for the Summer of Sleuths Contest from Bookshare!

This is our sixth and most exciting summer contest to date, and we invite all Bookshare Individual Members to participate. Will you be Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys? Put on your detective cap and help solve these cases!

How does the contest work?

  1.  Contestants examine clues provided by Bookshare.
  2. Contestants uncover the answers inside of great detective books (Bookshare will provide reading lists).
  3. Contestants who answer clues correctly will be entered to win great prizes!

What are the prizes? How do you win?

For each clue that is answered (and corresponding book downloaded), contestants will be entered for a chance to win. So the more clues you answer, the greater your chance of winning!

There will be two contest group prizes, one for U.S. students and one for nonstudents. There will be 20 winners in each group.

  •  U.S. non-students: One-year Bookshare membership extension, a $50 value (20 winners chosen at random)

 Who can join?

All contestants must have an active Bookshare Individual Membership. (Teachers, learn how to get students Individual Memberships. Individuals, sign up today!)

 When can you start?

The contest officially starts on June 16 and runs through August 1, but you can get ready now!  Here’s how:

  • Tell others teachers, students, and members about this so they can join too.

 

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels for more product updates, cool stories, events, and popular book titles.

 

 

Bookshare Support Question – What’s the Quickest and Easiest Way to Read Books from Bookshare for Individual Members?

2014 May 16
by Bookshare Team Member
Hand holding a smartphone

Hand holding a smartphone

Welcome to Bookshare’s support question of the month. In this inaugural post, our knowledgeable and responsive Support Team will address a commonly asked question from members just like you!

Every month, the team will choose a new support topic to help you get more out of Bookshare, so make sure you subscribe to our blog for these great tips.

Here’s our first month’s support question: 

“What’s the quickest and easiest way to access and read a Bookshare book for Individual Members?” 

Drum roll please… The answer is through the Bookshare Web Reader. This reader works on both Mac and Windows. Individual Members can use it to open and read books directly within their Internet browser.  You simply select “Read Now.”

Here are step-by-step directions that our Support Team recommends:

1. Open Google Chrome and log into Bookshare

2. Search for a book

3. Select “Read Now”

4. Follow prompts to install the Chrome Extension (you only need to do this your first time).

5. Your book will open, and you can begin reading by clicking the Start TTS button.

For more information, please read our support solution or watch this tutorial video.

Do you have questions you want answered? Visit our support portal; it’s full of great information on commonly asked questions. You can also submit questions to our support team directly.

And if you have a question you would like to share with the wider community, post a comment below or on Facebook, and we’ll address it in a future post.

people holding hands with the text "stay connected"Stay connected with Bookshare on all your favorite social media channels for product and support updates, cool stories, events and popular titles.

P.S. The Bookshare Web Reader could be an important tool for you in our Summer Sleuths Reading Contest.  (link)