Four years ago, after losing much of his sight in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, Timothy Fallon, a former First Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, learned about Bookshare at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.
“The staff and the program at Hines for visually-impaired veterans are great,” he said. “They take the time to get to know their clients and knew that I wanted to return to college. They encouraged me to sign up for a Bookshare membership that is free to any U.S. student with a qualifying print disability, including veterans.
Today, Tim is an experienced analyst and economist for the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. For many of his postsecondary courses, Tim downloaded textbooks and journals from Bookshare to read on his smart phone using the Voice Dream Reader app. An example of a book that he needed for class is A Savage War of Peace by Alistair Horn. Tim found it in Bookshare.
“The library easily has the largest selection of accessible reading materials available today,” he says. “I like the collection’s diversity from general to specific titles, and I appreciate that any time a member requests a book for their own use the book is added to the library and available to all members. This process causes a snowball effect for readers to do a deep dive into any topic. You would be surprised at the range of titles you can find in the library.”
To stay current in his field, Tim downloads complex research and government publications. His interests range from the economy and regional issues to books on security, the military, and congressional and government documents. Tim also reads monographs and reports from the RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank. These reports present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors including executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.
“Employers expect workers to stay current on the issues to maintain our professional fields of interest,” said Tim. “Bookshare’s library empowers me for my career and for recreational reading. There are topics for anyone to get smart and bestsellers for everyone to enjoy.”
For pleasure reading, Tim enjoys nonfiction as well as science fiction and fantasy by authors like Andy Weir who wrote The Martian and George R.R. Martin who wrote A Game of Thrones. Tim also likes books by James D. Hornfischer, a U.S. Navy historian.
Members can use Bookshare’s advanced search feature to easily find and filter categories to identify their favorite authors and genres. Now is the time to join the online accessible library. New adult members can save 33% on an annual subscription from now until December 15, 2015.
Elina Hughes has athetoid cerebral palsy which makes it almost impossible for her to hold a book or pencil, yet this disability doesn’t stop her from pursing her dreams, acquiring knowledge, attending college, and creating beautiful works of art using two important resources: Bookshare and assistive technology (AT).
In 2015, Elina and her mom, Karla Hughes, created a video, “Assistive Technology Rocks My Classroom,” to submit to President Obama for the White House Student Film Festival. This amazing mother-daughter duo are on a mission to emphasize the need for more assistive technology in the classroom and to shine a spotlight on the accomplishments a person with severe disabilities can achieve. Watch the video and be inspired as Mrs. Hughes describes her daughter’s progression through elementary and high school and as Elina demonstrates how she uses technology to pursue her creative interests and lifelong dreams.
Elina’s World – Reading, Learning, and Art
At age nine, Elina’s family and teachers encouraged her to use assistive technology and conductive education therapy, an innovative teaching and learning approach to reading, writing, communication, and math. Conductive therapy is an educational system specifically developed for children and adults who have motor disorders of neurological origin such as cerebral palsy.
At this time, Mrs. Hughes also signed her daughter up for a Bookshare Individual Membership so that Elina could find accessible books for school and pursue her interest in art.
By age twelve, she was proficient using technology to draw and paint. She won an “All Kids Can Create,” award by the Very Special Arts Kennedy Foundation, an international organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.
In high school, Elina excelled in all subjects, including Spanish. Today, at age eighteen, she attends Citrus Community College in Glendora, California, and plans to study public relations. She also intends to learn to communicate in other languages using assistive technology. Both Elina and her mom are confident that Bookshare will play a continuing role in providing accessible textbooks for her postsecondary studies and artistic outlets.
Elina reads on an iPad and loves using her iPhone 6 Plus. Using an AT device to communicate, she recently told a Bookshare product manager, Ginny Grant, that she is reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer to get inspired for a weekend trip
We wish Elina all the success in the world and thank her and her mom for their continued advocacy on behalf of children and adults with disabilities. With the right resources, everyone can pursue their unique talents and interests and be successful in school and in life.
Bookshare Can Help You Reach Your Goals
Bookshare’s library of over 370,000 digital accessible ebooks can facilitate lifelong learning and help you advance your career, acquire new skills, and expand your professional knowledge. During November we are offering a special discount on adult memberships. Stay tuned for detailed information.
This month, we are raising awareness about dyslexia and the myths surrounding people with this 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 reading technologies, people with dyslexia can break through reading barriers, live incredible lives and reach immeasurable goals. So today, we want to shine a spotlight on some of our own Bookshare members and their reflections of living and learning with dyslexia. These members, and many like them, are strong advocates of people with dyslexia and learning disabilities. We hope their inspiring stories will encourage you to help change the future for tens of thousands of children and adults.
Teacher Raises Children’s Hopes and Dreams
Every day, Cathy Wilson, a Texas dyslexia specialist, raises the bar to help children with print disabilities succeed as readers. Ms. Wilson encourages educators and parents to introduce children to accessible books and technology early to help them be more independent. “Technology is a great equalizer,” she says. “Children with dyslexia are less constrained by labels from their reading disabilities.”
Young People Advocate for Quality Reading Resources and Technologies in Schools
Reagan Reeves, an eighth grader, who has read 200 digital accessible books, is proud of the awards he has received for the most Accelerated Reader points in his class. Reagan encourages people with dyslexia to “embrace educational resources that support their reading challenges.”
Lily Prest read her first chapter book in just five days! “What a difference,” says her mom, Jessica. “Daily reading is no longer such a struggle. Ebooks enabled Lily to read and reread the story. It reinforced her ability to understand what she reads. Now, she loves to read and we want to tell everyone about it.”
What incredible zeal these Bookshare members have! We have little doubt that these young people are all destined to reach new heights. Let’s share their inspiring stories and use the resources below to spark new discussions about dyslexia on social media and in your community.
Resources to Share
The Bookshare collection includes practical strategies for teaching self-empowerment and helping children identify their strengths.
- Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywitz
- The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis
- Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
- The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss
- Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities, by David Fink, co-founder of Eye to Eye, a national mentoring program for students with learning and attention issues.
- In a Benetech video titled “As They See It: Technology for Students with Learning Disabilities,” several students with learning disabilities share their excitement about ebooks, Bookshare, and assistive technologies that open doors to confidence, independence, and achievement.