Did you know that in the U.S. an estimated 2% of all students have a print disability? And that by third and fourth grade*, students who are behind in reading, have a greater chance of falling behind in all their subjects? You can help to reverse this trend by sharing this awesome video, Possibilities Abound with Bookshare, created by students at Cogswell Polytechnical College. Imagine the realm of possibilities for more individuals with qualifying print disabilities in school and beyond.
Watch the animated video now to learn:
- What is a print disability.
- How it affects a person’s ability and desire to read.
- The importance of making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
Special Thanks to the Media Works Team at Cogswell Polytechnical College
Bookshare and Benetech, our parent nonprofit, send a special thank you to Cogswell Polytechnical College and the Media Works team for the creation of this inspiring, educational video.
Kristina Cohen, Senior Education Program Manager at Bookshare, said, “Bravo, Cogswell! This collaboration was a powerful opportunity for all. We appreciated the fresh approach, energy and professionalism that the students and university team provided. The video exceeded our expectations and offers an extremely potent way to educate people about print disabilities and the need for accessible books.”
You can help to open new possibilities for learners by sending this video link to one, two, or ten people who can benefit now!
Captions for this video are available on YouTube. Click on the icon labeled CC in the lower right corner to enable captions.
For accessible transcripts, visit: Bookshare Academy or download the transcript directly: bit.ly/AnimationTranscript
As one of your trusty support specialists, I often receive calls from teachers asking how students with Individual Memberships and IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) can access textbooks, particularly those from the NIMAC repository.
I tell them that this can easily be done with Reading Lists!
Reading Lists are virtual bookshelves that let teachers and members save books for future reading. Teachers can create Reading Lists with assigned reading, including NIMAC-sourced textbooks for students with IEPs, and share them with students linked with their organization. (Note: Students must have an Individual Membership to access shared Reading Lists.)
To read the books, students simply log into their own account and access books shared on the Reading List.
Here’s how it works:
- Teachers, log into www.bookshare.org and go to My Bookshare
- Select the “My Reading Lists” button and create a new Reading List.
- Name it something meaningful and select “visible to all Reading List members.”
- Share the Reading List with students by selecting the title of the Reading List. (Note: Make sure your student has an Individual Membership to guarantee access.)
- Select the “Members” link and select the “Add Members” button.
- Place a check mark next to the member’s name, then select “Add Selected Members.”
- Find the textbook you wish to share with a student, select the “Add to Reading List” link, and select the Reading List you just created.
The student can now log into their account and access the book!
If a student has an Individual Membership that is not linked with your organization, see our article: How can I Link my Student’s Existing Individual Account to My Organizational Account?
For more information, visit our always helpful Support Center.
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Customer Support Specialist, Angela Griffith, has a strong background in Customer Service, Assistive Technology, and IT (Information Technology). For more than two years, she has served many Bookshare members in her role as part of our Technical Support staff. Angela enjoys reading, music, spending time with close friends, and various activities.
We appreciate her support tips and article contributions to benefit Bookshare members and sponsors.
Donna, who has been blind since birth, takes young readers on a fast-paced journey of high school mystery and fantasy to teach important lessons about bullying and stereotyping kids with disabilities. This is a great read for middle school and older readers.
The main character, Abigail, is a gifted teen who is blind. She and friends, including a boy who uses a wheelchair, go on an amazing journey, encountering many prejudices along the way. They travel to foreign lands, where they learn to be independent and have many unusual experiences. They uncover a camouflage air ship called the Cloud Scooper at Elfin Pond, discover a plot to steal the powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth at Bar Gundoom Castle, and find an underground lake that holds powerful treasures. There’s even a suspenseful twist involving giants and spies.
Donna’s book is an intriguing story from beginning to end. It teaches important messages, while introducing kids to the beauty of literature, poetry, Greek mythology, history, and braille. Many adults will want to read the book, too!
“Most kids don’t have much involvement with classmates or adults who are blind,” says Donna. “My characters display a lot of courage and spunk. Their experiences will help readers draw new and positive conclusions about the true capabilities of kids who are blind and disabled.”
Though most of Donna’s plot is entirely fictitious, she incorporates incidents about her own life. “Many people made me feel miserable as a child, by allowing or participating in bullying,” she says. “There appeared to be no end to the torment I received as a blind kid, and these experiences made for perfect villains in the book.”
What does Donna read when she’s not engrossed in writing stories?
“I love thrillers and fantasy and all Harry Potter books. I like to read books written by fellow blind authors. I even learned to knit with books from Bookshare. And when I’m not working with neighboring schools, I write, play and record music with my guitar, and hang out with my guide dog, Hunter. He’s a good listener!”
Learning Initiatives in Schools
Donna is now introducing her book to librarians and educators in Pennsylvania schools. They are working together to develop a learning initiative so that more students can read about and discuss issues faced by people with disabilities. Professionals in education, rehabilitation, and the arts praise the book as a valuable tool for diversity, inclusivity, and anti-bullying initiatives.
You can download The Heart of Applebutter Hill from the Bookshare Library in BRF (Braille Refreshable Format), DAISY Text or Audio, or MP3. You can also read it directly in an Internet browser with the Bookshare Web Reader.
How did an Occupational Therapist Help to Build Statewide Delivery of Accessible Instruction Materials?
In 2010, the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) developed True AIM, a statewide initiative to ensure that all students with qualified print disabilities receive timely access to accessible instructional materials (AIM). To deliver on this promise, the Iowa DOE partnered with Benetech, Bookshare’s parent nonprofit.
Nancy Dunn, an occupational therapist and Bookshare Mentor Teacher, supported this initiative at the Iowa Heartland Area Education Agency. She and others on the assistive technology team trained educators about the benefits and delivery of accessible instructional materials. Their efforts helped to build capacity in more than ten Iowa districts. What did Nancy and the team do?
- Assisted with interventions to determine which students qualify for Bookshare and are able to benefit from electronic text
- Helped educators and parents determine the need for assistive technology and reading tools to support student learning
- Supported IEP teams to document the need for accessible materials
- Provided training to school staff and parents on accessing Bookshare and downloading books through Organizational and Individual Memberships
“I always begin my training by telling participants that Bookshare is free to students who qualify through federal awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs,” says Nancy. “It takes time to set up the district Organization Membership and build capacity, but once it’s done, it’s easy to download books for students. They don’t wait for books anymore and teachers do not have to send books to our central office for scanning. Bookshare has helped us remove some of the barriers of easily providing accessible instruction materials.
“I follow Bookshare in Action newsletters and sign up for webinars to hear about the latest tools and enhancements. I also network with other mentors who share best practices about their districts,” she said. “I am proud of the Iowa True AIM initiative and our accomplishments to build statewide capacity and to enable more students to reach their goals.”
Last year, a high school senior with a physical disability became an Individual Member of Bookshare. Nancy believes it was one of the best things she ever did to help a student. “He has so many interests, but cannot hold a book steady,” she said. “We explored many devices before we found a solution. Using the iPad mini, he could activate the keys with his knuckle or a stylus. Now, he independently accesses books using the Read2Go app and has a better chance of becoming a lifelong reader. I felt so good about him learning to use technology and having access to Bookshare before he graduated!”
About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program
This program began in 2010 to support the nation’s top teachers and assistive technology specialists with training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online accessible library and reading technologies. Over 500 educators and specialists have now joined the network and work in their local communities and schools to advocate for students with print disabilities. Bookshare Mentor Teachers also develop and share best practices with other teachers across the United States.
Learn more at http://communications.bookshare.org/mentor-teachers/.
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Sign up for an online course through Perkins to learn more about training others on Bookshare best practices!
Perkins eLearning is offering a five-week online course starting January 26, 2015. Sign up for this online course before December 31, 2014, and take advantage of an early bird discount!
Upon completing the course, you can earn 25 continuing education credits. This course is geared toward assistive technology specialists, trainers, teachers, and other educational specialists interested in gaining the tools and resources necessary to train others on Bookshare.
There’s nothing more satisfying than curling up with a good read. So, we’ve selected these fun Thanksgiving titles for Bookshare readers of all ages to learn why the holiday is so special. As we turn indoors for some good ole fashion fun, we hope your holiday is warm and enjoyable!
You never know what you can learn from a good book. Gobble, gobble!
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For younger readers:
For adult readers:
Bookshare Web Reader, the popular and free reading tool, can now be used on current versions of the Safari browser for Mac!
With this newest update to Bookshare Web Reader, Mac users can use Safari to find, open, and read Bookshare books directly within the browser. In addition, they can also listen to words read aloud and follow along with synchronized word highlighting. This full set of reading features was previously only available only on Google Chrome.
This is a particularly great update because in addition to using the Safari browser, Mac users can take advantage of high-quality voices available in Mac OS X!
What other improvements were included in this update?
- Access to full reading features on Safari.
- On current versions of Google Chrome, simply find a book and select “Read Now.” You no longer need to install the Chrome extension the first time you use it.
- Select voice preferences on Safari and Chrome.
Note that Bookshare Web Reader can still be used with screen readers on other browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer. Learn more about compatible browsers. In addition, Bookshare Web Reader is not yet fully supported on mobile devices, but you can learn about other compatible mobile reading tools.
Visit Bookshare today and try reading a book with Bookshare Web Reader on Safari or Chrome!