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6th Grade Volunteers at Bookshare Surprised!

A 6th grade girl is standing next to Bookshare's chopper
One of the volunteers and the chopper.

Three sixth graders from Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, CA, never thought community service would be so much fun. They volunteered to spend several hours helping organize the collection at Bookshare. However, the students didn’t know very much about Bookshare and what they’d be doing, nor did they realize that they’d also learn how students who can’t read print, (those who are blind or have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe learning disability like dyslexia) can read a digital accessible book.

When they arrived, they were introduced to the process Bookshare uses to convert many print textbooks books into a digital format. All three students participated in the first step, chopping the spine off a book with Bookshare’s very sharp, guillotine-like chopper.

The manager of our scanning process calls it “killing a book.”  In this case, “killing a book” transforms it into another format that can be read by any of the 155,000 students around the country who are Bookshare members –like a second life for the book!

The same 6th grader is getting ready to push the two buttons to chop a spine off.
Two hands on the controls make sure that no fingers are chopped!

More fun was planned for the students – helping Bookshare recycle the chopped, loose, rubber-band bound books. Kamal Ardeshna, the mother who brought the students to Bookshare said, “These kids grow up with books. They are brought up to read.” It was hard at first to recycle books in the dumpster, but the students quickly and enthusiastically got a system going. While sorting through and recycling books, the kids began to find some – yes, textbooks – they wanted.  They pulled out Algebra books to use in their accelerated math class. They took Reading books.

Later in the day, the kids were helping with Bookshare’s image description process, so students with print disabilities would gain access to maps.

Kamal said, “It’s been a great experience. It’s really opened their eyes to the fact that not everyone has the same access. They aren’t going to take

The 6th grade volunteer holding a spine.
The 6th grade volunteer holding a spine.

books for granted anymore.”

Thank you to Jordan Middle School for sending us some students! We greatly appreciated their assistance. Bookshare depends on the efforts of many volunteers and these students helped with several important tasks.

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