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College Student, Sam Myers is Future Ready with Bookshare!

2015 April 25
sam_myers_

Sam Myers uses Bookshare to access audio textbooks for his college courses.

Sam Myers, a senior psychology student at the University of Wyoming, was looking for assistive technology software that would read his textbooks aloud. Because of a visual impairment in one of his eyes, Sam could not read for long periods of time without straining his vision, and large amounts of reading became very tedious and time consuming.

As an audio-learner, Sam thought audio textbooks could possibly assist with his college reading and help to improve his performance as a student. He already had an iPad and tried to use the built-in screen reader feature, called VoiceOver, however, VoiceOver was not compatible with the e-textbooks for his courses. That’s when Sam turned to Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) for troubleshooting and assistance through the Wyoming Clearinghouse for Accessible Educational Materials and Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources (WATR).

By working with WIND staff, Sam learned of a resource called Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities that provides free memberships to qualifying U.S. students and schools. With the assistance of WIND and verification from his doctor, Sam was able to gain free access to Bookshare for all his textbooks for the semester.

“I have a lot more time now that I am reading my books through audio,” said Sam. “It is much less strain on my eyes and I am even able to study while I am doing my physical therapy exercises. Learning about Bookshare is going to be a great tool for graduate school. Assistive technology solutions are not transparent to everyone, so it is good to have a program like WIND and people who are so willing to help.”

Special thanks to Sam Myers, the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities for allowing us to republish this post.

 

Bookshare Volunteers Rock!

2015 April 20

flowers with sign that says Thank You VolunteersOn this Volunteer Recognition Day, we thank our volunteers who make Bookshare the best it can be. Bookshare and Benetech, our parent nonprofit, are so fortunate to have the generous support from volunteers around the world. You are positively impacting people with print disabilities, and we appreciate your life-size contributions!

In this blog, let’s catch up on the latest and greatest from the Bookshare volunteer community.

Congratulations to Marcus Garner!

Did you know that every year through the Mayrie ReNae Scholarship Fund, Bookshare provides a free membership for someone in need? Mayrie is remembered for her volunteer work and valuable guidance as a Bookshare staff member.

Marcus Garner with his Award

This year’s winner of a year-long Bookshare membership is Marcus Garner, a community activist who traveled to Nicaragua to lead a youth empowerment program for visually impaired teens.

Marcus is an alumnus of the New Foundations professional development program at the Lions Center for the Blind in Oakland, California. The Lions Center is a valued partner.

What’s New for Volunteers on the Bookshare Website?

Check out the revamped volunteer section of the Bookshare website. This volunteer home page is filled with information and tools to help volunteers get involved.

Here’s what’s new:

Updated scanning and proofreading instructions
• Links to submit a book, check out a book, and find your books in process in the left-hand navigation bar
More volunteer opportunities besides proofreading and scanning

U.S. Department of Education Does an Image Slam

This past month, senior leaders at the U.S. Department of Education got first-hand volunteer experience with an image slam. What’s an image slam?  It’s a hands-on session where volunteers make book images accessible by providing image descriptions using the Poet Image Description tool. Poet was developed by the DIAGRAM Center, another important Benetech initiative that is striving to change the way image and graphic content is produced and accessed for people with print disabilities.

According to Benetech President, Betsy Beaumon, “This is a critical and hopeful moment where rapid changes in the fields of consumer technology, education, and publishing make it possible to realize our dream of reading and information equality.” Want to learn more about Benetech’s work? Read Betsy’s official blogs on Disability.gov and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).

Faster Approval Queues

Special thanks to our dedicated volunteer team that manages the Bookshare approval queue. Its expertise has helped to get books into the collection faster than ever! Every day, this team continues to speed up the process to enhance and grow our library. Great job!

Proofing Children’s Books in High Demand

Kudos also to our in-house volunteers and the team at the University of Chicago, Delta Gamma Chapter. Their efforts have helped to get more high-demand children’s books proofread and added to the collection. These volunteers use a hard copy to proofread, and then add image descriptions to ensure that our young members don’t miss out on great titles!

Volunteers Make Wishes Come True!

Did you know that Bookshare offers members a Wish List where they can request books for pleasure reading outside of the classroom? We encourage volunteers to check out the Wish List for inspiration when looking for books to scan. Unless a volunteer scans them, Wish List books won’t be added to the collection, and members won’t have access to them. Help make a wish come true!

Share Your Volunteer Story or Photo

Bookshare volunteers have inspirational stories that demonstrate tremendous care for others. Send us your volunteer stories, comments, and photos, and we will feature you on our blog.

Bookshare’s Summer Internship
Bookshare’s third annual summer internship program is now open for rising high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores. Learn more about this great opportunity!

Bookshare Volunteers Rock!

Thank you so much for what you do.

MadeleineMadeleine coordinates the efforts surrounding Bookshare’s volunteer program with over 100 volunteers in-house and remotely around the world.

What’s Next for Bookshare Members after College?

2015 April 13
by Bookshare Team Member

Bookshare enriches the lives of people with print disabilities well beyond school into their adult lives.  Often members tell us they now enjoy exploring new interests and hobbies and finding resources to help them with their careers. Members stay connected to the world through local and national news. They catch up on the hottest books their friends are reading, and they pursue lifelong learning.

Our staff is catching up with college students about how they plan to use Bookshare after school, and today’s blog features Amber Steet, a Bookshare member since the ninth grade.

Meet Amber Steet

Amber Steet's PictureAmber has a full course load at the University of Texas at San Antonio and will graduate next year with honors and a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies in education and anthropology. After college, she plans to work as a teacher of the visually impaired.

When we caught up with her, Amber was gearing up to participate in a National Student Exchange Program and receive one of the highest individual honors given to college students: Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”

Amber has an impressive track record of academic achievement, leadership, and extracurricular activities. She is an officer in the Honor’s Society, mentors elementary students, and plans to continue to volunteer after college, most likely in a hospital. We congratulate Amber on all of her accomplishments and pursuits!

Is Bookshare in Amber’s Future?

“Yes, I’m positively going to continue my membership to Bookshare, even after school,” she says. “The library gives me free reign to read and gain knowledge.”

In her spare time, Amber likes to indulge her unique reading interests, including a love of the paranormal and gripping cover-up and conspiracy stories from favorite authors like Jim Marrs.

When asked how she plans to tap into Bookshare as a teacher, Amber said, “Hopefully to read what I enjoy and find career resources and stories that will benefit me as a teacher and for my students.”

We ask all current and future Bookshare members, what’s next for you?  Are you signed up to enjoy lifelong learning?

We hope so!
Watch Amber’s Summer Video About Reading Bookshare Books on a BrailleNote.

Students on School Accounts Can “Read Now” Using Popular Bookshare Web Reader

2015 April 6

Orange button that says READ NOW, Bookshare Web Reader

Did you know that Bookshare Web Reader, the popular web-based reading tool that was previously available only to Individual Members, is now available for students on school accounts too? Yes! Bookshare Web Reader is so easy to use!

All you need is a computer with an Internet connection, and you can find, open, and start reading Bookshare books directly within popular Internet browsers like Google Chrome and Safari.

Your reading experience is easier, faster, and efficient!

There is no software to install, and you don’t need to worry about downloading and finding book files on your computer or reading device. Simply select “Read Now” to start reading Bookshare books!

How does Bookshare Web Reader work for Organizational Accounts?

Teachers assign books to students on Reading Lists and give them a username and password. Students log in anywhere there is Internet access—at school, at home, or on the go—and read assigned books. That’s it!

Watch this quick video tutorial about Bookshare Web Reader!

How does Bookshare Web Reader benefit teachers and students?

  • Manage reading easily. No more software installation or downloading books to folders or directories.
  • Build student independence. Let them log in and read on their own.
  • Save time! No more opening books for Bookshare members to read.
  • Read anywhere.  Students just need a PC or Mac with Internet.
  • Enable a multi-modal reading experience. Listen and follow highlighted text in a compatible browser.*
  • Encourage summer reading and help your students now learn to use Bookshare Web Reader.

Want more information? Check out these training guides and sign up for a webinar!

Try Bookshare Web Reader today, and look out for more news on our popular summer reading event! Details coming soon.

*To access Bookshare Web Reader’s full features, please make sure to use a compatible browser.

 

 

 

 

 

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