In honor of Veterans Day, we salute Timothy E. Hornik, a Bookshare member and U.S. Army Captain who has a lifelong ambition to help Veterans who are visually impaired make successful transitions to civilian life.
In 2002, Tim earned his military commission from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. In September 2004, he was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. That same year, sniper fire caused Tim to become blind.
For the next eight years, Tim remained on active duty managing operations, and he was able to fulfill his desire to serve others. Today, he is a Licensed Master of Social Work at the University of Kansas and is pursuing his PhD in Therapeutic Sciences.
Tim is also the cofounder of TAVVI, The Technology Association for Veterans with Visual Impairments, a working group under the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) in Kansas. TAVVI develops programs and services to offer educational resources and personalized transition support to disabled Veterans pursuing postsecondary education.
The Blinded Veterans Association reports statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs that there are over 158,000 visually impaired Veterans in the U.S. This rate may increase by 7,000 each year. Today, more than ever before, Veterans are taking advantage of military-related educational programs and enrolling in universities, community colleges, and vocational institutions.
Tim estimates that within two years, TAVVI may serve 400 to as many as 800 Veteran students. To develop his program, he networks with colleagues at Veterans organizations and universities and advocates for digital accessible ebooks and technologies to be readily available for Veterans with print disabilities. Among the educational resources he recommends is Bookshare’s online library. Membership to Bookshare is free for Veterans with qualified print disabilities who attend U.S. schools. Tim likes the varied collection of educational ebooks, technical and professional journals, and popular sci-fi he reads for pleasure.
Tim’s preferred technology device for reading accessible books is his iPhone with the Voice Dream Reader App. He was also an early adopter of Bookshare’s Read2Go app. Tim likes accessible books with synthesized text to speech (TTS) because the uniformity of voices helps him to read and skim information fast. He also recommends that fellow Veterans read titles in Bookshare’s special military collection to help them better understand the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. Titles Tim has read and recommend include:
- Disability in Passing, Blurring the Lines of Identity
- Disabled Veterans in History
- Veterans in Higher Education: When Johnny and Jane Come Marching to Campus
In addition to his work at TAVVI, Tim writes a blog, Blind, but Not Alone, and has published a series of guides on features and applications for visually impaired iOS users. Last year, he represented wounded warriors at the M-Enabling Summit and provided evidence for a congressional hearing on the VA’s 508 usability survey for screen readers. Tim also downloads children’s books from Bookshare to read with his young daughter and spends time volunteering with these organizations: Heartland Regional Group of Blinded Veterans in Kansas, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and the University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare.
The Bookshare staff would like to thank Tim and all Veterans for their extraordinary service to our country. Together with Tim and organizations like TAVVI, we extend our thanks and salute university programs and organizations that bring people, resources, and information to serve disabled Veterans.
Happy Veterans Day!
For more information about Bookshare, visit www.bookshare.org or email Veterans@bookshare.org. We appreciate your support in helping Bookshare add more titles and collections to the library for Veterans to read. Please donate today! Thank you.
In July 2014, Bookshare announced a partnership with the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) in Canada. This partnership significantly increases the availability of accessible books and services to support Canadian citizens with qualified print disabilities.
CELA is a non-profit organization established by Canadian public libraries with support by CNIB. Its mission is to offer alternative format production and services delivery of accessible books so that CELA member libraries may enrich the reading experience to support children and adults with print disabilities such as vision loss, a physical disability, such as cerebral palsy or a severe reading disability, like dyslexia.
Through this partnership, CELA covers the cost of Bookshare memberships for eligible individuals. The effort aims to champion the fundamental rights of persons with print disabilities to access media and reading materials in the format of their choice, including audio, braille, e-text and descriptive video.
CELA Board Chairman, Catherine Biss, said, “Canadian Library Month is a time to honor librarians and library organizations that work so diligently to enhance the reading experiences of all individuals, especially those with print disabilities. Through Bookshare, we can offer access to so many more titles in accessible formats with unlimited downloads and no expiration dates.”
To assist Canadian organizations who want to make their local communities and schools aware of the Bookshare membership and services, CELA has a bilingual staff and useful information and materials, (in English and French) on its website to support local outreach efforts.
CELA patrons who sign up for Bookshare membership will receive unlimited access to more than 200,000 accessible books today, as well as reading technologies and apps that read digital formats with text-to-speech (TTS). Collections range from novels, nonfiction and mysteries, to cookbooks, children’s books, popular titles on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers Lists and titles by acclaimed Canadian authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
Recently, Bookshare staff traveled to Canada to spend time with the CELA team and public librarians in and around Toronto. Everyone agreed that accessible books open a world of reading opportunities for persons with print disabilities.
The staff were particularly enthusiastic about how rapidly the Bookshare collection grows with popular titles to pique readers’ interests. They also appreciate the fast and easy membership sign up process and the ease in which patrons can download and read accessible books.
“We are excited to work with CELA and bring new benefits to Canadians,” said Kristina Pappas, Bookshare’s International Program Manager. “Through our partnership, we hope that thousands more individuals with print disabilities will easily find their favorite books and genres in our extensive collection.”
GUEST BLOG POST:
BY JENNIFER JOLLIFF AND SARA SMITH, PROGRAM COORDINATORS AT MISSION MIDDLE COLLEGE
Recently, we caught up with Jennifer Jolliff and Sara Smith, Program Coordinators at Mission Middle College, CA, to talk about their college bridge program in the Santa Clara School District. This collaboration gives high school seniors who are not performing well academically a second chance at making successful transitions to college.
In this blog, Jennifer and Sara describe how students with learning disabilities feel about attending college and their approach to provide a new learning environment. They also offer some great recommended reading resources.
Believing Students with LD Will Succeed
By 11th grade, Caleb was withdrawn and almost voiceless. His self-esteem had hit rock bottom. Due to his low reading ability, he felt ridiculed, ashamed, and beyond academic assistance. Caleb’s anxiety level was in overdrive as he talked with us about taking college courses. This young man was sensitive and smart, but lacked the transcripts and reading confidence to succeed. Sadly, many battle-scarred students, like Caleb, skip the quest to college for fear of failure.
Students with learning disabilities often lack the reading comprehension skills to handle college courses. They may be labeled as having an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or a 504. They may not have been formally diagnosed with a reading disability, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, but are keenly aware that others have low expectations. They may believe that no one really believes they can succeed. Our task is to reverse this belief and provide a learning environment that wipes away this stigma.
About Mission Middle College Transition Program
Like many transition programs, our approach is to build a bridge to increase students’ confidence and give them alternative ways to learn. First, we equip them with technology. We encourage good study habits and teach them about emotional intelligence. These students want and deserve mutual respect.
To improve reading comprehension, we provide access to quality educational resources like Bookshare for students who qualify. Caleb liked reading accessible books with text-to-speech. This multisensory environment (seeing and hearing the content) reinforced reading comprehension.
Next, we connect students with peer mentors and provide resources for them to explore about learning disabilities. At the end of this article, we list reading recommendations to help parents.
Lastly, we set uniformly high expectations. Our learning environment at Mission Middle College applies cognitive-based theory with technology and instructional strategies that focus on reading comprehension. This combination helps the learner take ownership for their academic progress.
When we first met Caleb, he was fearful and unprepared. He responded favorably to using technology and accessible books. His reading comprehension improved. His barriers broke down and he believed he could succeed. His hard work paid off! Today, he attends East Texas Access University for religious studies. This is the type of success we want for all learners.
Recommended Reading Resources From Jennifer and Sara:
- 7 Steps to Success: High School to College Transition Strategies for Students with Disabilities by Elizabeth Hamblet
- Preparing Students with Disabilities for College Success: A Practical Guide to Transition Planning Paperback by Stan Shaw Ed.D. (Editor), Joseph Madaus Ph.D., Lyman Dukes Ph.D.
- Special Education Students with Learning Disabilities Transitioning from High School into Community Colleges by Ta-Tanisha A. Essex
- Transition Planning for Secondary Students with Disabilities, Edition 4, by Robert W. Flexer, Robert M. Baer, Pamela Luft, Thomas J. Simmons
- Mosaics of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction by Ellin Oliver Steen and Susanne Zimmerman
- Building Transitional Programs for Students with Disabilities: How to Navigate the Course of Their Lives by Mahanay-Castro Christy Ph.D.
- Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution by Jonathan Mooney, David Cole, Edward M. Hallowell
- Bookshare Online Library Student Resources Special Collection
- The National Collaborative of Workforce and Disability Website for Youth
- The National Center of Learning Disabilities
- AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disabilities)
- National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center
P.S. Read this blog about Michael Yudin’s visit to Mission Middle College. Mr. Yudin is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
Many thanks to Jennifer Jolliff, Sara Smith and Caleb Richardson, for sharing this information and update.
Bookshare serves many members who have a severe reading disability, like dyslexia, that makes it difficult to comprehend what they read in standard print. Persons with dyslexia cannot easily recognize words and letter sounds. They may be slow readers and poor spellers because signals to their brain mix up the ability to accurately decode print.
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) reports that 1 in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia, and half of all students who qualify for special education in U.S. schools are classified with a learning disability. Thankfully, there are many people who have benefited from digital accessible books paired with assistive technology.
Did you know that Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities? Yes, and it is offered at no cost to qualified U.S. students and schools. As a member of Bookshare, you can tap into a world of more than 300,000 titles for education and pleasure reading and hear the ebooks read aloud using text-to-speech (TTS) technology. October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, and we want to share with you two short stories from Bookshare moms about their sons’ efforts to succeed academically.
Bookshare Moms Share Sons’ Reading Success
Michelle Reeves says, “My son, Reagan was 8 years old when he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He struggled in school and didn’t like to read. His eyes would tire while reading print, and he fell behind in his schoolwork. As a Texas teacher, I found out about Bookshare through our school. Today, my happy 8th grader listens to accessible ebooks read aloud on portable technology devices. He downloads ebooks on his iPhone by himself and uses an iPad Mini to read with an app called Read2Go. He even reads for pleasure! Last year, he downloaded and read over 200 digital books and received an award for having accumulated the most Accelerated Reader points in his class. Bravo!”
A California mom and school counselor also shared her pride with us when her seventh grader passed his Accelerated Reading tests with a 100% for comprehension. “He’s doing well reading with accessible books. Using reading technology, he can see highlighted words and hear text read aloud. He can choose font size, background colors, and rate of speed. He’s even given up video games and sets his alarm to wake up early to read before school. Amazing!”
A big thanks to these parents for their inspirational stories and to all parents who continue to share resources and information likes the ones we list below.
Parent technical and information centers, such as Parents Helping Parents in California and the Simon Technology Center in Minnesota, offer opportunities to try different types of accessible technology tools and work directly with schools to find the right support for students.
Additionally, check out these fine organizations for resources, strategies, and support and stay tuned for our blog about the launch of the new Understood website designed for parents of children with learning and attention issues.
- 2Dual Inc
- Decoding Dyslexia—Parent Network
- Dyslexia Training Institute
- International Dyslexia Association
- Learning Disabilities Association of America
- National Center on Learning Disabilities
- Parents Helping Parents
- Project Eye to Eye
- Susan Barton System
- The Assistive Technology International Association
- The Center of Applied Technology
- The Family Center on Technology and Disabilities
- Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity