Bookshare has developed innovative technology to make textbooks more accessible to blind and visually impaired students. Before now, blind and visually impaired students missed out on thousands of images in their textbooks. Imagine studying science without being able to see the charts, graphs or diagrams in your textbook! Using a simple on-line tool we call Poet, our volunteers write vital descriptions for textbook images.
On March 4, Brigham Young University students sponsored a competition among campus-based church groups to write image descriptions in textbooks for Bookshare members. Dozens of students participated in the two-hour challenge, writing over 600 descriptions in high school textbooks on subjects ranging from physics and life science to literature and world history. With the great success of this event, we’ll continue reaching out to colleges to host similar “image slam” competitions on their campuses. We also plan to start engaging students in proofreading digital textbooks for their print disabled peers.
This is our third semester partnering with the highly creative and dedicated students at BYU. So far their efforts have generated around 3,000 image descriptions. They also developed a facilitator guidebook with suggestions for starting Bookshare volunteer charters on other campuses. Their outreach efforts and activities include a blub Facebook page, competitions with prizes, promotional and recruitment videos, flyers, and a clever “Prezi”. Students have also expressed an interest developing a local mentoring program for disabled high school students to encourage them to pursue a postsecondary education.
Special thanks to our talented current BYU team (pictured below), Amy Lambert, David Covey, Jared Hawkins, and Seth Jenson!