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Author is a Champion for Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Books

2019 January 16
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

Bookshare member Katherine Schneider describes her passion for inclusion and why she originated the Schneider Family Book Award

Bookshare members come in all shapes and sizes, and they all have a unique story to tell and wisdom to share. Today we meet Katherine Schneider. She grew upKatherine Schneider walking through a park with her guide dog Luna in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and received her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Purdue University. She taught, counseled, supervised, and directed several university counseling services before retiring. She currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with her ninth Seeing Eye dog, Luna.

How did you develop a love of reading?

I started receiving Braille and talking books in the mid-1950s from the National Library Service. My mom also read to me, but it always seemed there weren’t enough books to keep me satisfied.

How long have you been a Bookshare member? How has Bookshare supported your reading efforts and personal and professional goals?

I’m not sure when I started getting Bookshare books, but it’s been a love affair the whole way. Reading to keep current in my field and to see what was available in disability memoirs and children’s books about disability issues as I wrote mine have been extremely helpful. Then there’s the joy of getting a current thriller the day it’s published and ahead of my sighted friends.

What reading tools and devices do you use to read books?You're Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

I use hardcopy Braille, download audio files from Bookshare and the National Library Service, and have just started using a refreshable Braille device. I still rely on a human reader occasionally.

What do you think about the digital text-to-speech voices?

Coming from a background of book scarcity, I don’t care how the voice sounds (human or digital) as long as I can understand it. Occasionally, like for poetry, a human voice with expression is nice.

What inspired you to establish the Schneider Family Book Award for literature with the American Library Association?

The books I read as a child had few blind or disabled characters, so I knew there needed to be more and better characters presented to children. Louis Braille, Helen Keller, and the seven blind men who went to see the elephant were about all that was available back then. Some of the kids’ books I’ve seen made the characters with disabilities be “inspirational” or an object of pity. So I established the award for librarians to highlight the best of the best every year and hoped it would make publishers and authors take note. It has, and more and better books are out there now. It makes my heart happy.

What advice do you have for others who are blind or have visual impairments?Official seal of the Schneider Family Book Award with braille at bottom

I’ve got way more advice than is generally needed or wanted. I’ll limit myself to build a good support network, expect to give 110%, and enjoy the journey toward your goals. Good luck!

About Katherine and the Schneider Family Book Award

Established in 2004, the Schneider Family Book Award honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for children and adolescents. Bookshare is proud to offer the full collection of winners including 2018 winners:

Katherine Schneider, Ph.D., is a retired clinical psychologist and author. She has published a memoir, To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities; a children’s book, Your Treasure Hunt: Disabilities and Finding Your Gold; and a book about aging, Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life, all available on Bookshare. We encourage you to read her blog.

Bookshare is an ebook library for people with reading barriers. If you know someone who cannot read books due to a disability like blindness, dyslexia, or cerebral palsy, learn how Bookshare can make reading easier.

Bookshare Impacts Even More Lives in 2018

2019 January 7
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

Before we jump into 2019 with both feet, let’s look back on 2018 and celebrate key Bookshare milestones and accomplishments.

Library Grows by Leaps and BoundsThe Outsiders by SE Hinton

Bookshare’s goal is to make every book available to people with reading barriers by converting them into easy-to-read formats. This past year, we added close to 100,000 new books to our online library, bringing the total collection to 675,000 ebooks in 45 languages. Over 1.5 million titles were downloaded around the world, and – drum roll please – these are the top ten books downloaded by members.

Finding Books is Easier than EverA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

To help make finding that next great book easier, Bookshare librarians create customized Reading Lists. Since 2017, they have handpicked titles and created over 320 lists in our Special Collections, from American Library Association Award Winners to YA Winter Wonderland favorites. The three most popular Special Collections to date are:

Record Number of Students Use Bookshare

More and more students with reading barriers across the U.S. use Bookshare for school and leisure reading. In 2018, 70,000 new students joined Bookshare, bringing the total student body to 610,000 student members.

Bookshare Salutes Teacher Heroes

Ryan listens to a book on his iPod and portable speakers

Ryan listens to a book on his iPod and portable speakers

Our three-part blog series featuring the Crazy Reading Ladies – also known as Erin O’Leary and Mary Cotillo – at Horace Mann Middle School, shared their winning strategies to leverage accessible books and assistive technology to help students overcome what they refer to as post-traumatic reading disorder.

Bookshare Salutes Student and Parent Heroes

Ryan, a Florida eighth grader with dyslexia, and his mother, Tippi, teamed up to offer their advice to students with dyslexia. Ryan says that the ability to listen to audiobooks in Bookshare was a game changer for him and allowed him to read books his friends were reading.

Bookshare Salutes Adult Members

Jessica Pinto has been a Bookshare champion since eighth grade. We were thrilled to learn about her work teaching computer skills to people with special needs and serving as a disability rights advocate.

Daniel Coney shared his challenges resulting from vision loss as well as his triumphs after discovering Bookshare and Voice Dream Reader.

Bookshare Expands to Asia and Beyond

Jessica Pinto is sitting in a wheelchair and using a MacBook

Jessica accesses Bookshare on her laptop

Did you know that Bookshare is a worldwide phenomenon? In addition to serving members in the United States, Bookshare is crossing borders and bringing books to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates, with many more countries coming on board in 2019.

More Books Coming Around the World

People with reading barriers around the world are poised to get access to more books. On October 10, 2018, President Trump signed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, paving the way for the United States and 70 other ratifying countries to increase access to books in alternative formats. When the treaty is implemented, Bookshare will be able to provide more books to all its members.

Get Involved in 2019

We invite you to connect and engage with the Bookshare community:

  • Subscribe to the Bookshare blog
  • Make a donation to add more books to the Bookshare collection
  • Share the impact that Bookshare has had on your life or someone you know
  • Engage with the Bookshare community on Facebook and Twitter

To all of the Bookshare members, educators, parents, volunteers, and advocates, we appreciate all you do to make accessible reading enrich the lives of people who cannot read standard print. We can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring!

‘Tis the Season to Give and Enjoy Books

2018 December 18

We invite you to donate to Bookshare’s annual book drive 

This holiday season, give the gift of books to emerging readers. Bookshare is running an end-of-year book drive, and you can help bring high-demand books to students with reading barriers.

Bookshare adds thousands of new titles to the library every month, providing access to more books in easy-to-read ebook formats for students with dyslexia, blindness, low vision, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers. Our library currently has over 675,000 titles! Yet, this is still a fraction of the one million new books published every year. Members request new books, and we do everything we can to get those into the library.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention Series for K-5

Some of the most highly requested books are “leveled readers.” These are collections of books that are organized by difficulty level (from easy to complex) and are designed to help students build reading skills and confidence as they advance through the levels.

Bookshare currently has Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Green System for Grade 1. With your help, we can purchase the rest of the grades K-5 series. Here is what members tell us about these books:

Literacy leaders, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, provide hand-selected, leveled collections. They provide opportunities to extend reading practice and strengthen newly acquired skills of primary grade students. There are 60 single titles for Grade 3, Collections 1 and 2. We would like to get the Leveled literacy Intervention by Fountas & Pinnell on Bookshare. Can those books be added?

I noticed the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Books green series was available, but not the blue series. As the students increase their reading ability, they are no longer able to access the ebooks in audio and large print of the higher-level books.

We love that you have created some awesome Reading Lists. Is there any way you could create some more like this list for Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Green System Grade 1? We could use leveled readers at these levels to help our students.

I use this system (Fountas & Pinnell) for my Tier 3 Reading Intervention class and would love to have access to all of the books for my many students who useBoy reading on a laptop and wearing headphones in a classroom Bookshare.

My student has an IEP and requires large print and adaptive software for an iPad. He used these leveled readers last year, and I believe they may be available as a whole group, but not sure. Thank you.

I love that you added first grade reading levels and would like to expand the grade level ranges. I work with kids with learning needs and this is GREAT for those teachers using these resources to have more books available and in digital format.

With your help, we can reach our goal of raising $20,000 to complete the Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention series grades K-5 on Bookshare. Whether you can give $5, $10, $20, or more, every gift counts and gets us closer to reaching our $20,000 goal. Thank you!

Blue button that says give

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Gifts to Bookshare are made through our parent nonprofit, Benetech, and are tax-deductible (Tax ID: 77-0555413).​​​​​​​

Bookshare’s Best Books of 2018

2018 December 12
by Amreen Ahmed, Bookshare Operations Associate

The end of the year is upon us, and so are all the best-of–the-year book lists. Here at Bookshare, we constantly talk about what we’re reading, and we’d love toA snowman is wearing a hat and scarf and holding a red shovel share some of our favorites with you.

Holiday Stories for Kids

‘Tis the season to enjoy the December holidays with this collection of 28 heartwarming books for kids ages 3-12 to keep them reading during winter break.

  • Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller Squirrel wants to make a New Year’s resolution… as soon as she figures out what a resolution is. Ages 4-8.
  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser – The Vanderbeeker family couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than 141st Street, so when their landlord won’t renew their lease, they’ll do anything to stay. Ages 7-10.
  • Dreidels on the Brain by Joel Ben Izzy – Joel is a middle school magician who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere in 1971 Los Angeles. Hopefully the eight nights of Hanukkah will turn his luck around. Ages 10-14.Dreidels on the Brain by Joel Ben Izzy

Best Books of 2018 – Young Adult

Young Adult literature tells diverse and unique stories for teens ages 12-18. This collection of 25 YA favorites will keep them entertained throughout winter break.

  • Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi – Penny and Sam don’t have a meet cute: he’s passed out in the street and she finds him. Soon their awkward run-in blossoms into a vibrant text relationship, but will they be able to take their relationship off-screen?
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson – Stevie Bell joins the prestigious Ellingham Academy with one goal: solve the mystery of the founder’s missing wife and daughter. However, the past collides with the present as the killer returns to terrorize Ellingham Academy once again.
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – Krell aliens have cornered the human race, and the humans’ only defense is their fleet of elite space pilots. Spensa dreams of becoming a pilot, but her father’s past makes it nearly impossible, until she finds an ancient ship with a personality.Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Best Books of 2018 – Staff Picks

The Bookshare staff shares 25 of the best books they read this year including these favorites:

  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – this book follows three generations of a family starting with the Korean-Japanese War and continuing through and beyond World War II. If you like historical fiction and family sagas, this one is a winner! – Guillian, Collection Development
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – The story of Theranos, the blood-testing startup based in Palo Alto, California, reads like a detective story that uncovers scientific and medical fraud. For an inside look into the rise and fall of founder Elizabeth Holmes and the dark side of Silicon Valley, look no further. – Paul, Operations
  • Without Getting Killed or Caught by Tamara Saviano – Guy Clark was a legendary singer and songwriter and a major influence on two generations of songwriters. Written by Clark’s former publicist and producer, and part memoir, part biography, this book tells a new story about an unforgettable man. – Matt, Texas Outreach CoordinatorBeartown by Frederik Backman
  • Beartown by Frederik Backman – this book is an enthralling and devastating look at community relationships, small town values, and the actions that can tear those communities apart or unite them. The themes of morality and loyalty are accessible while challenging, and the story about a broken girl putting herself back together is both tragic and empowering. – Amanda, Communities

What was your favorite book of 2018?

Let us know in the comments or share on Facebook or Twitter.

The Bookshare staff wishes you a warm and happy holiday season filled with good cheer and plenty of good books.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving and All Year Long

2018 November 14
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

From Brazil to Barbados and from Germany to Ghana, cultures around the world celebrate the fall harvest and give thanks for abundance and good fortune. Bookshare has a variety of books to help families celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

For young readers:The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter by Randa Handler

Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra – During the nineteenth century, Sarah Josepha Hale dedicated her life to making Thanksgiving a national holiday, all while raising a family and becoming a groundbreaking writer and women’s magazine editor.

The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter by Randa Handler – In 1941, Takari and her Japanese-American family learn the importance of Thanksgiving traditions from her Native American friend.

Ready, Freddy! #15: Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble by Abby Klein – Guess who gets to play the turkey in the school play?

For parents:How to Raise Kind Kids by Thomas Lickona

How to Raise Kind Kids and Get Respect, Gratitude and a Happier Family in the Bargain by Thomas Lickona – A developmental psychologist shares tools that parents can use to foster cooperation and build character at home

For aspiring chefs:

How to Cook Everything Thanksgiving by Mark Bittman – The author who gave us the How to Cook Everything series shares 20 recipes for the big day

For adults:

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan – How a year living gratefully gave the author a fresh outlook that transformed her marriage, family life, work, health, and everyday experience.Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick – What really happened during the Pilgrims’ epic voyage and settlement in the New World is a tale of conflict and colonialism, cooperation and betrayal

For crafters:

Crafting Gratitude: Creating and Celebrating Our Blessings with Hands and Heart by Maggie Oman Shannon – 40 meditative crafts to explore gratitude and invigorate your life

Read Your Way on the Device You ChooseReading tool wizard screen that asks the device you want to use

Members can enjoy these Thanksgiving books and many more anytime, anywhere on devices like computers, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, assistive technology devices, and MP3 players. Books can be read directly from a web browser or with a compatible app that lets you find, download, and read directly from within the reading tool. If you need help getting started, try the new Reading Tool Wizard.

Bookshare is grateful for the members, teachers, parents, volunteers, donors, and other supporters who make it possible for us to bring books to people with reading barriers around the world. The Bookshare team wishes everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.


4 “Crazy” Ways to Inspire Your Uninspired Student Readers [Video]

2018 November 5

Is your student or child uninspired about reading? Are they reading below grade level or experiencing reading difficulties? You are not alone. Many teachers and parents struggle to excite students about reading and learning. For Erin O’Leary, a reading specialist at Horace Mann Middle School, the key to engaging student readers is to create positive, enjoyable experiences around reading.

Erin is one of the “Crazy Reading Ladies,” a dynamic duo of educators who use innovative reading programs like author visits and book buffets to get students reading. Their creativity and dedication have helped students with reading barriers, like dyslexia, and inspired schools around the nation to adopt similar programs.

How do the “Crazy Reading Ladies” do it? In this four-part video segment, Erin shares insights and reading programs that could help your child or students.

Part 1: Give Them Great Books

In Part 1, Erin speaks about keeping good books in the lives of students and giving them the time and space to read.


Part 2: Make Reading Easier with Tools

In Part 2, Erin shares her experience with tools like Bookshare and explains how audio-supported reading is just as valid and acceptable as any other reading method.


Part 3: Build Their Confidence

In Part 3, Erin shares a success story with her 8th grader and how she helped build confidence in his reading skills with the help of Bookshare.


Part 4: Make Reading Social and Fun

In Part 4, Erin describes how planning school-wide initiatives like author visits and book buffets can help turn reading into a social experience.


The Bookshare team thanks Erin for sharing her tips and expertise. Learn more about “The Crazy Reading Ladies.”

Bookshare is FREE for qualified U.S. students with reading barriers.

It’s a Thrilling, Chilling, “Spooktober” Read-a-thon with Bookshare

2018 October 17
by Amreen Ahmed, Bookshare Operations Associate

Three jack-o-lanterns

As Halloween comes around the corner, it’s time to pick up mysteries, thrillers, and spooky stories to celebrate. Whether gritty true crime is your passion or you prefer a cozy mystery perfect for a fall night, Bookshare has reading lists filled with new and old favorites for you to enjoy.

True Crime for Adult Readers

Read the stories behind the headlines of American crime in these chilling novels.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara – A case that haunted California for decades, the Golden State Killer was finally uncovered this year, in part due toI'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara the detective work and writing of Michelle McNamara. Her research is both thorough and thrilling and sure to keep you up at night.

Popular Crime by Bill James – This book takes a look at some of the most enduring and fascinating mysteries in American crime history. James investigates why crimes capture our attention and have changed our culture in this captivating read.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – The book that started the true crime novel genre, In Cold Blood follows the case of the Herbert Clutter family murders in Kansas. Read Capote’s lauded work and decide for yourself just how much is true.

View all the books in the True Crime reading list.

Cozy Mysteries Series for Teen and Adult Readers

Find a new series of murder mysteries perfect for reading with a slice of pumpkin pie.

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert – Join Halia Watkins in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where the soul food is hot and the murder is cold-blooded. Read along as Halia tries to solve a murder while keeping her restaurant running.Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A. L. Herbert

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle – Curl up with a hot cup of coffee as Clare Cosi returns to her barista life…and is immediately drawn into a mystery. While finding out who’s after her coworker, Clare also finds herself drawn to the cute cop on the case.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters – Dig in with Amelia Peabody as she travels to Egypt to join an archaeological dig with her new friend, Evelyn. However, things take a turn for the spooky when their mummy comes to life.

View all the books in the Cozy Mysteries Series.

Spooky Halloween Reads for Kids and Teens

Get kids and teens in the spirit of Halloween with these fun and spooky books.

Monsterland by James Crowley – On Halloween, Charlie discovers a new world in the woods, one filled with creatures he’s never seen before. Charlie sets out to find his cousin Billy and makes some new monster friends along the way.Monsterland by James Crowley

Shake dem Halloween Bones by W. Nikola-Lisa – Kids will love following along with the rhythm of this book about a hip-hop Halloween party.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson – When Mila Flores’ best friend and two of the school mean girls die under mysterious circumstances, she decides to find her own answers by bringing the girls back to life. They only have a week to find out what really happened to their murderer…or else he might come back for Mila.

View all the books in the Spooky Halloween reading list.

Bookshare Has Mysteries and Thrillers Galore

And if that’s not enough to scare your socks off, Bookshare has over 53,000 total books in the mystery and thrillers category, including books in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Catalan, and Arabic. Read on…if you dare!

Learn more about Bookshare

Raising the Awareness of Dyslexia

2018 October 8
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

80% of people believe dyslexia is associated with low intelligence. This is not true. Dyslexia occurs in people of all intellectual levels. Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty and affects up to 20% of the population. Research has proven that students with dyslexia can learn to read when instruction is explicit and systematic; multisensory; consistent and frequent; phonics based; individualized; emotionally reinforcing.

Every October, during #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth, we join the chorus of voices raising awareness about dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that affects word recognition, spelling, and reading. Brain research says that with the right resources and accommodations, like accessible books and assistive technologies, people with dyslexia can break through reading barriers. Today we share the thoughts of Bookshare members (and their parents) to increase awareness of dyslexia.

Ryan, Paloma and Omree Share Success Stories

Ryan in Florida: Ryan was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade. As an auditory learner, he raised his reading ability to grade level with the help of text-to-speech audiobooks. “I wish someone had told us about Bookshare earlier and that using audiobooks is not a cop out. By listening to books Ryan enjoys, it has given him the confidence to try reading those books. He recognizes words in print because he has heard them being used through audiobooks,” says Tippi, Ryan’s mother.

Paloma in New Hampshire: At age 9, reading was so frustrating that Paloma wanted to quit. Then she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Even though she was very bright, her brain processed information differently. She reads books on her iPad with an app called Voice Dream Reader that allows her to listen to text-to-speech narration while following the highlighted text. Her father noticed an immediate improvement. Bookshare plus specialized instruction was the breakthrough Paloma needed to welcome reading back into her daily life.

Paloma reads an accessible ebook from the Bookshare library on her iPad

Paloma reads an accessible ebook from the Bookshare library on her iPad

Omree in California: In second grade, Omree’s teacher asked him to read aloud and he couldn’t do it. Testing by a reading specialist revealed that Omree had dyslexia. He signed up for Bookshare so he could read his textbooks with audio narration. “Reading digital text helps me to pay attention and read for longer periods of time. With Bookshare’s collection, I can dive into books and have no limits to hold me back. When that happens, people with dyslexia can do well in school and go to college.”

Tweets that Inspire Us

From Jennifer: My son listened to Hatchet by Gary Paulson for an entire weekend thanks to Bookshare…well above his reading level.

From Lesley: @Bookshare-Just downloaded all of our son’s grade 10 English books. Used the Dolphin Reader App-so easy. Keeping up with his peers regardless of his disabilities.

From mother of Bookshare member: My son said to thank you as he really loved Huckleberry Finn! It was a joy to watch him laugh as he listened and read. Amazing. He has an A in English with the support of Bookshare.

From Jenny B: My son with severe dyslexia will never be able to read books with his eyes. But he’s an avid reader thanks to Bookshare. Reading is taking in information. Doesn’t matter how you do it via eyes or ears. Don’t limit children by your definition of “reading.”

Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. SeussFrom Jessica: Bragging moment: after years of struggling daily to read at grade level my daughter makes high honors in 7th grade! #dyslexia Thanks @Bookshare & all the other tools & teachers in her life!

From Dyslexic Star: Every day I am so thankful for @VoiceDreamApp and @Bookshare #dyslexicessentials

From Susannah: Listening to books via @CELAlibrary & @Bookshare using text highlighting in @VoiceDreamApp has been #1 best thing helping my dyslexic child improve reading fluency.

Keep the Advocacy Going Strong

Bookshare and Benetech, our parent nonprofit, salute the parents, educators, administrators, and others who support and advocate for students with learning disabilities. We echo the words of Dr. Seuss, in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! who encourages everyone to find the success that lies within. “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

Daniel’s Story: Vision Challenges Can’t Stop Joy of Reading

2018 September 26
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

By Daniel Coney, guest author

Dan Coney sits in a chair and reads a book on his iPad

I have an inherited eye condition called pathological myopia. Unlike “normal” myopia, which tends to stabilize, my form continues worsening. This condition causes structural problems in the eye that often lead to vision loss later in life. While I have no memory of ever having good vision, I had little in the way of serious vision problems until about five years ago. Then, a series of retinal detachments left me blind in one eye. I am gradually losing vision in my remaining eye, though I am not yet legally blind.

I cannot read print or use a computer without magnification. I rely heavily on the accessibility features of my iPhone and iPad. Our public library offers a selection of ebooks that I listen to using my iOS Kindle app and Apple’s built-in screen reader. While the library can have a limited selection and long waiting lists, and the screen reader has limited functionality, they allowed me to “read.”

In July, to my great delight, I discovered Bookshare. The selection of materials available through Bookshare is simply astounding. I have yet to search for a title and not find it!  With a quick tap of a download button, my book is ready. I am reading a book or two a week.

1776 by David McCulloughI now use Voice Dream Reader. Its features are extensive and intuitive. I like the highly customizable display that lets me follow along as I listen. I use the iOS Samantha voice. Having grown very accustomed to it, I am able to listen to content at high replay speeds without sacrificing comprehension. I have tried other voices and settings but prefer that one. Most text-to-speech (TTS) voices seem better than one might expect, though getting accustomed to them can take some patience.

I enjoy a wide variety of genres and authors. I am especially fond of history, biographies, historical fiction and suspense novels, although I do not limit myself to just those. A few of the books that I’ve read recently are 1776 by David McCullough and The Rooster Bar by John Grisham.

I confess to sometimes being frustrated by my vision and missing the feel and smell of a book in my hands. However, I am exceedingly grateful for Bookshare offering all the content I could possibly want and for the devices and applications that let me so easily enjoy it.

In early 2017, with my ophthalmologist’s recommendation, I began studying braille. That is quite a journey in its own right. I enrolled with the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Bookshare membership is free for all currently enrolled Hadley students living in the United States. It was through Hadley, who are a wonderful group of people, that I learned about Bookshare. Hadley and Bookshare have proven to be great finds for me!The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

I have found the advice of others with vision problems very helpful and encourage others to seek any help they may need. I hope nobody lets vision difficulties rob them of the gift and joy of reading.

Dan lives in North Carolina with his wife of 35 years. They have two grown children and five granddaughters. He has a nearly forty-year career in banking. In addition to reading, he enjoys music, technology, the outdoors and St. Louis Cardinals baseball. @DanConey1

Bookshare would like to thank Dan for generously sharing his story.

Survey Says! Back-to-School Insights from Teachers of Students with Reading Barriers

2018 September 21
by Laura Deck, Bookshare Communications

All teachers understand the importance of giving students all the resources and tools they need to start school strong on day one. For students with disabilities, this readiness is even more critical since it is easy for them to fall behind. To assess the level of back-to-school preparedness for both teachers and students, Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare, recently surveyed 744 teachers across the United States who serve students with reading barriers including dyslexia, low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that interferes with reading. The survey asked if teachers felt prepared to start the school year, and if their students felt ready to start the school year.

Boy reading on a laptop and wearing headphones in a classroomTeachers Feel Prepared…Students: Not So Much

The respondents were special education teachers, the majority of them current or past Bookshare members. A little more than two-thirds of teachers said they were prepared for the new year. But only about 40 percent said that they agreed that their pupils with reading disabilities were prepared. About 39 percent said they neither agreed nor disagreed with that statement, and nearly 22 percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Three Factors Contribute to Student Readiness

The instructors surveyed said they were more likely to believe their students were prepared for the new year if they also agreed that their students had access to accessible texts and appropriate technology, and if the teachers felt supported by their administrators with the resources that the teachers need.

“The Benetech Back-to-School Survey takes the pulse of the dedicated teachers who serve students with reading barriers,” said Brad Turner, VP of Global Literacy, Benetech. “While numerous factors contribute to teachers feeling they and their students are prepared, the survey data shows that three factors pull significant weight with students and teachers: support from school administration, access to books in various formats, and access to technology resources. Other potential factors such as types of reading barriers, school location, and number of students did not demonstrate a large impact on feelings of student preparedness.”

View a detailed analysis of the data including an interactive data visualization. An extended alt-text description of the data visualization is also available.

Bookshare is an ebook library that makes reading easier. You can read in ways that work for you with ebooks in audio, audio + highlighted text, large text, and braille. With over 650,000 titles, you are sure to find the books you need for school, work, and the joy of reading. Bookshare is FREE for all qualified U.S. students and less than $1 per week for all other members.