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AT Specialist Designs Bookshare Course to Support District Initiative

2015 March 29
by Bookshare Team Member
a head and shoulders image of Stephanie Caceres

Stephanie Caceres

In 2014, Stephanie Caceres, a Bookshare Mentor Teacher, developed an online training course for middle and high school teachers in her district to learn about Bookshare and apps like Read2Go and Go Read. “It’s not what you know, but what you are willing to learn,” says Ms. Caceres, a former special education inclusion teacher and now an assistive technology specialist for Worcester County Public Schools, Maryland.

She developed her training module with the support of her district supervisor, Rae Record, who encourages innovation and the use of technology to make sure that more students can easily access the curriculum. This initiative also encourages special education teachers to dig deep into the benefits of Bookshare. “With Read2Go and Go Read apps for tablets, Bookshare is much more accessible in the classroom,” says this AT Specialist.

Teachers who complete her eight hour course receive a stipend from the district. They appreciate the incentives their district provides to enable them to work through the course on their own time schedule and to be reimbursed.

“When Stephanie contacted us about her training module, we thought what a great idea,” says Kristina Cohen, Sr. Education Manager for Benetech. “We were impressed by her creativity and initiative. This type of professional development can make a positive impact on teacher learning. We hope more educators will consider a similar initiative.”

Cover of “All About Bookshare, Read2Go and Go Read”

Stephanie’s “All About Bookshare, Read2Go and Go Read” Guide includes information and videos on:

Criteria to complete her course includes:

“Too often professional development falls to the bottom of the list for teachers who are working hard to educate our students,” adds Caceres. “It’s a time and priority issue. Our district is involved in many new initiatives to support student learning. As a special education teacher, I recognize the importance of student accessibility and having as much success as I have with Bookshare, I knew I could create an effective learning module. It’s a beneficial educational resource and a win-win for our school, our teachers, and our students.”

Since her district has widely adopted Bookshare and mobile apps, Caceres has worked closely with many teachers and students to share the benefits of Bookshare. “My supervisor is excited about the module and believes it should be doable for teachers. In the long run, we will ultimately help more students with print disabilities enjoy an improved reading experience using accessible books and on-the-go apps. This can lead to opening the world of reading for the first time.”

About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program

Bookshare’s Mentor Teacher program supports the world’s top teachers and assistive technology specialists. It provides training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online accessible library and reading technologies. Over 600 educators and specialists have now joined the network and work in their local communities and schools to advocate on behalf of students with print disabilities. Bookshare Mentor Teachers also develop and share best practices with other teachers around the globe. Join us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Reads with Bookshare!

2015 March 23

 World Map with Canada point and Bookshare Logo

Calling all Canadians…do you love to read a good story?

How about 225,000 amazing stories, all available at your fingertips for FREE?

Canadians with qualified print disabilities can easily access all the latest ebooks, like NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson, Oprah’s Book Club titles, like I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, and CBC Canada Reads books, like When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid.

Free ebooksHow Is This Possible? 

The Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) partnered with Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities, to offer a huge collection of over 225,000 titles, including new releases, bestsellers, mysteries, romance, science fiction, autobiographies, and books for school and career.

In addition, Bookshare books do not have expiration dates, and people with print disabilities can read many different ways and on a variety of reading tools!

More Ways to Read!

With Bookshare, you get many reading options—more than any other accessible library. You can read books on tablets, smartphones, computers, assistive technology devices, MP3 players, and more. And because Bookshare books come in accessible formats like DAISY and BRF (Braille Ready Format), they can be read the following ways:

  • Listen to words read aloud
  • See and hear words read on a screen
  • Read with enlarged fonts
  • Read with refreshable braille

What Do You Get with Bookshare?

With a Bookshare membership, you get all of the following:

  • Unlimited access to more than 225,000 titles with no expiration dates!
  • 24/7 availability to the Bookshare website
  • Free reading tools for PC, Mac, and Android devices
  • Friendly and helpful customer support
  • Access to a lively and supportive community of Bookshare members

 Sign Up Today with These Four Easy Steps!

  1.  Make sure you qualify as a Canadian with a print disability.
  2.  Contact your local local library to register for CELA services.
  1. Sign-Up for Bookshare!
  2. Email proof of disability to: membership@bookshare.org.

Welcome to all our Canadian members.

P.S. If you know someone who could benefit from this offer, please share this information!

Thank you.

 

Navigate Dyslexia with These Recommended Books for Parents!

2015 March 13
by Lisa Wadors Verne

Are you a parent of a child with a print disability, like dyslexia? As part of our efforts to support parents in navigating their child’s learning differences, here are two helpful books that were written specifically for parents by people with dyslexia.

dyslexia_foss_coverBen Foss, dyslexia advocate and well-known author, wrote The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning to help families build a pathway to independence for children with dyslexia. Here is Ben’s three-step process:

  1. Identify your child’s strengths.
  2. Share those strengths with school administrators and educators.
  3. Explore technologies that will help your child be more self-sufficient.

While other books tell you what dyslexia is, Ben’s book helps you to identify learning strategies that support a child’s individual learning style and maximize their unlimited potential. Read more about Ben Foss at Headstrong Nation.

d_flink_think_diff_coverAnother recent book (2014) recommended for parents of children with learning differences is by David Flink, co-founder of Eye to Eye, a national mentoring program for students with learning and attention issues. David’s book, Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities, will help you understand and accept your child’s learning differences. Read stories from parents who share similar experiences. You will learn practical strategies for teaching self-empowerment and helping your children identify their inner strengths.

You can also find these great titles at your favorite bookseller. And if you are parent and a Bookshare member with a qualified print disability, you can read these books in our library: Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities and The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning.

Parents! Sign up your child with a qualifying print disability for an Individual Membership to Bookshare and open a new world to reading!

 

Image of Lisa Wadors

Lisa Wadors Verne

Lisa Wadors Verne  is Benetech’s Global Literacy Program Manager of Education, Research, and Partnerships.  Lisa has a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University Joint Doctoral Program, in special education and policy.

Born Accessible and the New Golden Age of Inclusive Education

2015 March 9
by Noa Ronkin
Betsy Beaumon speaking

Betsy Beaumon

Betsy Beaumon’s Keynote at the 52nd Annual Learning Disabilities Association of America Conference. First published on the Benetech website on February 25, 2015.

 Rapid advances in technology are remaking the content landscape and have made it possible to get more content, in more ways, to more people. Will the digital revolution usher in a golden age of access to books and information for people who cannot use standard print, such as those affected by dyslexia and other learning disabilities?

Logo of the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

Benetech President Betsy Beaumon posed this challenge in her keynote address at the opening of the 52nd Annual Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of America. Beaumon, an authority on digital accessible materials in education, has spearheaded the movement to see to it that “born digital” books and curricula are “born accessible” to all, that is, made accessible from the outset, as an integral part of the publishing process. In her keynote, she highlighted the convergence of accessible digital materials, mobile devices, and promising new education technology tools that are cloud-connected. These advances can empower students and teachers through personalized interfaces, multi-modal access formats, and better, timelier data on student learning progress.

3-d image of a skull

Benetech’s DIAGRAM Center is exploring 3D printing technology, among others, as a way to increase access to curriculum and learning.

 

Beaumon described Benetech’s multi-pronged approach to making this vision a reality. Through its Bookshare online library, Benetech makes the text of ebooks accessible and delivers it to hundreds of thousands of members around the world. Through its DIAGRAM Center and Born Accessible initiatives, Benetech’s work also encompasses research, standards, guidelines, and the development of technology tools to make it easier to create, discover, use, and interact with accessible content, including images, graphics, and math. The challenge of making new digital content born accessible, and accessible all the way to the end user, requires partnerships and technological innovation. Indeed, much of Benetech’s work is done in partnership with corporate, technology, university, publisher, and nonprofit communities.

Accessible content that is universally designed, noted Beaumon, is good content: it works better for everyone and meets the needs of learners with disabilities, advancing inclusive education and equality of opportunity. She concluded with a call to action to educators, administrators, and parents: now is the time to make inclusion a reality, and all of us working together can make it happen.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America is a nonprofit organization of parents, professionals, and adults with learning disabilities providing support, information, and advocacy on behalf of individuals with learning disabilities. Held in Chicago last week, the 52nd Annual Learning Disabilities Association of America Conference brought together leading experts in education, assistive technology, and public policy, attracting a diverse audience of educators, administrators, support professionals, and parents and adults with learning disabilities from around the country and abroad. They discussed issues and best practices in areas ranging from professional preparation and evaluation to advances in research, assessment for learning disabilities, and the transition from school to work or college.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go With Bookshare!

2015 March 2

Book cover of Oh the places you'll go by Dr. Seuss“Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98 and 34% guaranteed!)” – Dr. Seuss

This positive message is one of the best known lines from the Dr. Seuss classic, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” This uplifting book is an all-time favorite of both children and adults and is the featured title for this year’s Read Across America Day.

We celebrate this national event by encouraging all Bookshare members and book lovers everywhere to read this wonderful story.

Read it yourself. Read it with a friend. Read it with your child. Read it to the end. The story reminds us of life’s challenges during times of transition and provides helpful affirmations to help us move forward. Bookshare members often make positive changes and successful transitions. Here are some of their stories!

Mrs. Lola Alvarez with her son, Jose.

Jose Looks Forward to Middle School

Nine-year-old, Jose, struggled to read basic books in kindergarten. He was frustrated and sad. In second grade, Jose was diagnosed with dyslexia. A therapist gave him an accessible ebook from Bookshare that he read on the family iPad. His mom, Lola, says, “Jose is ten times happier! He is a different child and learner. He is better equipped to perform well on reading tests. We believe that he will make a much easier transition to middle school where reading assignments become even more challenging.”

When we think of transition, we often think of high school, college or work, but what about transitioning from elementary to middle school and onto high school? How can we help students with print disabilities succeed through all their transitions?

 

Susanna Felts, Librarian for Corpus Christie, TX with students.

Ms. Felts Recommends Starting Early

Early intervention can help students transition successfully. When asked at what age students should start with resources like Bookshare, Susanna Felts, an elementary school librarian in Corpus Christi, TX says, as early as possible.

“By third grade, if students are struggling, we must initiate a process to assess their needs and accommodate their reading ability,” says Ms. Felts. “Starting the process early helps more students keep pace before they fall behind. We don’t want to wait until students are in fifth grade or older to make that determination.”

Emily reading on her iPad.

Emily Demonstrates Transition Success

What does transition success look like? Meet Emily!

She has juvenile macular degeneration and has used technology and Bookshare to help her make successful transitions throughout her life. Emily became an A+ student early on, and when she transitioned to high school, she took many advanced placement classes. Emily is also tech savvy and reads accessible ebooks on all types of reading devices. With her great courage, wonderful teachers, and resources like Bookshare, she is well on her way to make successful transitions to college, career and beyond.

Tell Us About The Places You Will Go!

Thanks for making the Read Across America a successful national event. Let’s keep the discussion going. Tell us why you think accessible books will ease your transition and learning success.

Oh…and happy birthday to Dr. Seuss!

P.S. Next month we’ll talk about the benefits of digital accessible books and technologies to transition more easily to high school, college and careers. Visit www.bookshare.org to learn more and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Bookshare Member and Accessible ebooks Shine at TCEA and SXSWedu

2015 February 27

tcea logo“Learn Anywhere” was the theme of this year’s Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Conference, held February 3–6 in Austin. TCEA is one of the largest regional EdTech (educational technology) events in the U.S., and Benetech’s Accessible Books for Texas (ABT) team was on hand to demonstrate tools that help Bookshare members read accessible ebooks anytime, anywhere.

Austin eighth grader Ben Cooper shows Texas Education Agency staff how he reads accessible ebooks from Bookshare quickly and easily on his iPad.

Hundreds of Texas educators, administrators, school librarians, and school IT professionals stopped by the Bookshare/ABT booth to learn how their students with print disabilities can succeed at reading with accessible ebooks from Bookshare. They also learned about the wide variety of reading tools to support people with learning differences. In addition, many attended two dynamic conference sessions presented by the ABT team about “Anytime, Anywhere Learning for Readers with Print Disabilities.”

TCEA was also the ideal venue to connect with Austin eighth grader Ben Cooper, an avid Bookshare user and passionate dyslexia advocate. Ben visited the conference to talk with Texas Education Agency staff about the challenges he faces as a student with a learning disability and how Bookshare helps him succeed in school.

Student talks on video about the ebooks he reads for school.

In a recent Benetech video titled “As They See It: Technology for Students with Learning Disabilities,” Ben and other Texas students with learning disabilities share their excitement about ebooks, Bookshare, and assistive technologies that open doors to confidence, independence, and achievement. He also delivers a heartfelt and compelling message to students: “If you are struggling with reading, you might want to…get checked for a learning disability. Check it out now before you get pummeled with reading.”

sxswedu logoAt the upcoming SXSWedu Conference, Ben will bring his powerful message to more people.

 

  •  On March 9 at 3:00 p.m., hear Ben give a 10-minute talk on “Disability Rights” as part of the Student Voice Summit at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Austin.

 

  • On March 10 at 6:00 p.m., during the SXSWedu Education Expo in the Austin Convention Center, hear Ben and several other presenters encourage attendees to “Think Big!” when it comes to dyslexia.

 

  •  On March 12 at 9:00 a.m. in the Hilton Downtown Austin, Ben will participate in discussions on “Dyslexia: Changing How We Think about Potential.”

 

ABT logoThe ABT team will attend Ben’s presentations and staff a Bookshare table during the Education Expo, March 10 from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. Throughout the conference, the ABT team will also demonstrate Bookshare in the “Experience Dyslexia” section of the hands-on playground area.

 

Ben Cooper ready to discuss the benefits of accessible books and reading technologies.

The Bookshare and ABT teams are excited to be represented by such a vibrant young man as Ben Cooper. As a result of his advocacy, we look forward to seeing more students with qualifying print disabilities sign up for Bookshare membership and benefit from its many resources

 

Full Steam Ahead at CSUN 2015!

2015 February 20

CSUN

 

The 2015 CSUN Conference is less than a month away, and we’re excited to be there to share all the great news and developments from Benetech and Bookshare, including product updates, accessible math, 3D printing, accessible images, publishing and more!

Join us for these can’t-miss events!

Thanks for your RSVP and marking these CSUN 2015 events on your conference calendar. Please encourage others to attend.

Benetech Wins All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Grant to Improve Literacy for Primary School Students with Disabilities in India

2015 February 18

Young boy who is blind reading with a portable device.

This article was originally posted on Benetech’s blog on February 5, 2015.

We are delighted to share that USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government awarded Benetech a 2015 grant to improve literacy for primary school students who are blind in India. The new grant, under the three partners’ All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development literacy innovations competition, funds our proposed winning project to provide Indian students who are blind with mother tongue instruction and reading materials through Bookshare, our digital library of accessible books. This supports Benetech’s commitment to extend the benefits of Bookshare across borders to empower individuals with disabilities around the world, especially in developing countries, to live fuller lives.

USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government established the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development partnership in 2011 to improve reading for children in early grades through cost-effective innovations. Benetech is one of fourteen new grantees selected through a highly competitive process that elicited over two hundred proposals from fifty countries.

This project will allow us to tackle a pressing problem: in the developing world, students who are blind or have other print disabilities face formidable barriers as they pursue their education in the midst of a widespread book famine. In countries with several regional languages, such as India, even when a child with a print disability does receive an accessible text, it is the bare minimum to participate in class, with little or no reading materials to strengthen their learning outside the classroom, and few opportunities to complement their braille learning with other modes, such as audio. Preliminary data from teachers at our partner schools for the blind in India shows very low levels of early grade reading skills, ranging between 10-15%.

With support of the All Children Reading grant, we will address this challenge by developing and launching a pilot project to provide accessible educational content for primary school students who are blind in the Maharashtra region of India, where we will be able to capitalize on multiple existing Bookshare partnerships. Our two-year project will pair targeted literacy pedagogy focusing on braille reading with human-narrated audio content in Marathi, which is the language that is primarily spoken at home and in the community in Maharashtra. While Bookshare has revolutionized the availability and reach of accessible materials through digital text production and delivery, we are undertaking this human-audio effort to support languages where digital text-to-speech is of poor quality or not available.

We will pilot this new capability with at least one hundred students spread across three schools for the blind in Maharashtra, offering age-appropriate, high-interest books in their mother tongue in both human-narrated audio and hard-copy braille. This will allow the students to benefit from a multimodal approach to learning early reading skills, while ensuring that they receive a strong foundation in braille literacy and an early familiarity with assistive technology for educational purposes.

We will support this work by providing training on assistive technology and on Bookshare services to teachers, administrators, and parents in our target region. Our goal is to have 30-35% of our target students reading at grade level at the project’s end. In order to measure the benefits of our project and improvement in the students’ reading scores, we will implement a rigorous evaluation plan. This evaluation will inform our future development plans as we seek to replicate our pilot project on a larger scale.

Benetech has been working to provide accessible books in India since 2008. During that time, we have built a powerful coalition of partners located in India and the United States, and a solid ecosystem serving over 2,200 Indian Bookshare members with a collection of more than 180,000 English, Hindi, and Tamil accessible books. Bookshare’s work in India—the first country to have ratified the “Marrakesh Treaty” easing access to books for people with print disabilities—models how we can transform the lives of millions of individuals with disabilities through rapid growth of accessible content around the world.

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Kristina Pappas

Kristina Pappas, International Program Manager, Benetech Global Literacy

Kristina Pappas is the International Program Manager for Benetech’s Global Literacy initiative.  She has an extensive background in book publishing and international business. Under her direction, Bookshare International has grown to encompass members in nearly 50 countries, books in more than 13 languages, and partnerships with organizations serving people with print disabilities around the world. Kristina received a B.A. from Stanford University and an MBA from the Presidio Graduate School.

NEW Bookshare Academy! Essential Training Resource Has The Answers!

2015 February 11

Educators learning together seated at a table.

Are you looking for video tutorials or webinars to help you use Bookshare better? Do you need materials to train your school staff, parents or volunteers? Do you want to learn and earn continuing education credits? Bookshare Academy has the answers and resources for you!

The Bookshare Academy is our new learning and training platform. It’s packed with information and learning opportunities for Bookshare members, teachers, parents, community service providers and trainers. What can you find in the Academy?

  • Online learning – take online courses about Bookshare through our partner, Perkins eLearning, and earn continuing education credits.
  • Video tutorials and member videos – learn at your own pace with short, instructive Learn-It-Now video tutorials and watch and share inspiring member videos with others.
  • Webinars – view and sign up for upcoming webinars, watch pre-recorded webinars, or request a webinar for your school or district (must have at least 20 participants).
  • Tools for Trainers – find training tools such as demo accounts, power point slides and handouts, a great resource for busy AT specialists, Bookshare mentor teachers, and parent ambassadors!
  • Flyers and user guides – find, print, and share Bookshare brochures and user guides to advocate and train others on Bookshare benefits.
  • Other resources – explore additional information about accessible educational materials, assistive technology, literacy, and services to support people with print disabilities.

In addition to the Academy, watch for new training tips, events and support information in our monthly blog post series. Stay tuned and visit the Bookshare Academy today!

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Kristina King Cohen, Senior Education Program Manager

Kristina King Cohen is a Senior Education Program Manager with Benetech Global Literacy Programs.  Kristina brings over fifteen years experience working in public education and human and health services. She has a proven track record in building successful and sustainable enrichment programs specifically focused on K-12 public schools. Kristina holds a Masters in International Relations from San Francisco State University where she focused her research on global access to education. Her main focus is to educate communities about the various resources Bookshare brings to schools across the country.

 

Bookshare and Benetech Take Center Stage at LDA 2015!

2015 February 7
by Bookshare Team Member

 

LDA logo for the 2015 Conference. A photo of the city of Chicago with hotels and and the water line

We are very excited about the upcoming Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) 2015 Conference in Chicago. Why?

Because we get to meet you, our members and supporters! Make sure that you attend these must-see events:

We look forward to seeing you at LDA 2015!