Accessible Books for Texas Program Funded for Fifth Year and Offers Enhanced Spanish Language Support
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has just approved funding for Benetech’s Accessible Books for Texas (ABT) program for a fifth year, from September 2014 through August 2015. Benetech is the parent nonprofit of Bookshare. This funding supplements an existing award from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, and allows Benetech to do even more via a state-level partnership with Texas.
Through ABT, local outreach coordinators deliver customized, face-to-face AEM (accessible educational materials) and Bookshare training to Texas educators, parents, and students. Additionally, Bookshare applies dedicated resources to Texas membership and support questions and book requests. As a result, the number of Texas public K-12 schools using Bookshare, and the number of Texas students getting accessible ebooks through Bookshare, are growing at twice the pace of the national average.
¿Lea en Español?
Texas parents, students, and educators who prefer to read in Spanish can now learn all about ABT from a new Spanish version of the ABT website. In addition, Bookshare brochures are now available in Spanish on the ABT website.
Prospective members who prefer to read in Spanish can also benefit from an Individual Membership Sign-Up Form in Spanish. This form provides a Spanish translation of the online sign-up form and should be used for reference only. For faster processing, prospective Individual Members should still sign up online.
Did you know that Bookshare offers nearly 5,000 books in Spanish? These include Spanish translations of popular books by bestselling authors such as J. K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Isabel Allende, Gary Soto, John C. Maxwell, Joel Osteen, and T. D. Jakes! More Spanish titles are added each month, and members are encouraged to request books that aren’t yet in the collection.
Bookshare members can also listen to Spanish books in a high-quality audio voice. When downloaded in audio format (either DAISY Audio or MP3), all Spanish Bookshare books are provided in a high-quality text-to-speech (TTS) voice. This helps ensure a pleasant listening experience. Spanish books downloaded in DAISY Audio can be read in Read2Go, the Bookshare app for the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. Check out instructions here.
Bookshare members can also read Spanish books using other TTS reading software. The DAISY Consortium Reader and several commercially available reading software programs offer Spanish TTS voices.
Feel free to pass on this information to Texas parents, students, and educators who serve students with print disabilities! Thank you.
Earlier this year, we featured a blog and video by Bookshare Student Member, Carson Maxson. He and his English teacher, Sallie Spencer, from Olivet Middle School, Michigan, created the video “How Read2Go Moved My Life” for the first White House Student Film Festival. They wanted to demonstrate how Carson’s reading ability changed once he was introduced to portable technology and accessible ebooks to accommodate his learning disability.
Carson’s story is not so unusual for kids with learning disabilities. They fall behind at an early age and cannot keep pace with other students. By fourth grade, Carson read at a first-grade level. His self-esteem was low and he hated to read. With each new assignment, he felt anxiety and failure.
But in sixth grade, Carson’s learning journey changed. Mrs. Spencer encouraged Carson to sign up for a Bookshare Individual Membership and test drive an iPad. She taught him how to find and download books, organize reading lists, and read accessible ebooks from the Bookshare library. This helped Carson to be more independent, allowing him to get the books he liked and to read whenever he felt the urge, which became more often.
“When Carson reads books with Read2Go, the Bookshare app for Apple devices, something magical happens. He comprehends what he reads!” said Mrs. Spencer. “I knew then that we had hit the jackpot in making headway in Carson’s learning journey. When I hear Carson talk with friends about the books he’s read, his voice swells with pride and so does my heart. In 20 years of teaching, I’ve never found an educational resource that has made such a profound difference for students who attend special education classes. It’s difficult for teachers to observe their students feeling failure and to hear their families’ desperate requests for the right support solutions.”
“The combination of the iPad with accessible books and Read2Go has made a tremendous impact. Carson now answers comprehension questions with ease and with details, and he describes his reading experience in positive ways.”
This year, Carson has read a record number of chapter books that he’ll tell you about with a big smile in his video! Now in eighth grade, his grades and reading skills have improved in all curricular areas,” says Mrs. Spencer, “and so has his self-esteem! That’s why we felt it was important to tell his story to President Obama in the White House Student Film Festival. It’s undeniable to me that with the right educational resources and technologies, more students can become successful readers. Carson has flourished in school and is passing with flying colors. He still struggles but is more confident and believes in himself. Downloading just one ebook could make all the difference for students with learning disabilities and change the course of their lives forever.”
For more cool stories, videos, events, and popular book titles, stay connected to Bookshare on all the social media channels.
Post written by Brenda Hendricksen, Volunteer Program Manager for Benetech and published on August 19, 2014 on the Benetech blog.
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Across the U.S., thousands of students with print disabilities will start their school year without the textbooks they need for class.
These students need their books converted to accessible formats. To meet that need, the Benetech Volunteer Program is launching a new project for the 2014-15 school year—and we’re inviting you to join us!
When a Bookshare member needs a book for school that is not yet in our collection, the member submits a request and Bookshare creates an accessible digital version of that book. However, students often don’t know what books they need until the first days of school—a hectic time when Bookshare receives thousands of book requests. During this time, the process of making a textbook accessible can take from 8-12 weeks, with proofreading being the most time-intensive and costly component. Meanwhile, students with print disabilities risk falling behind in school as they wait for the books they need.
Volunteers can help fulfill students’ book requests faster during periods of peak demand by joining in Benetech’s newest volunteer initiative: Team-Up for Textbooks!
Here’s the idea: through targeted outreach to parents, schools, and community partners, we will recruit volunteer teams to proofread student requested textbooks. By teaming up, we will not only speed up the delivery of student textbooks, but will also build awareness to strengthen the web of support for students with disabilities.
Sign up today and make a difference for a student with a disability now while creating a lasting resource that will support students for years to come!
To sign up visit: http://bookshare.TeamUp4Textbooks.sgizmo.com/s3/
For more information about Bookshare and other volunteer opportunities, visit the Bookshare website.