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Moms Say, “Bookshare Unlocks Reading Potential for Early Learners”

There’s no better resource than a mom to share quality educational tools, and these two moms are no exception. They are avid fans of Bookshare, an online library of digital accessible books and reading technologies free for U.S. students and children who qualify with print disabilities.

A print disability is categorized as blind, low vision, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability, such as dyslexia. Thousands of educators and families across America now use the library routinely to provide K–12 and postsecondary classroom reading assignments, including textbooks, English literature, teacher recommended reading, periodicals, and pleasure reading, such as bestsellers for all ages.

The collections are designed to give students with print disabilities more learning equality and timely access to educational materials in accessible formats (DAISY text, DAISY text with images, DAISY audio, MP3, and Braille Ready Format).

Since 2007, Bookshare has received two five-year awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  It is a literacy initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.

Today, Bookshare holds over 192,000 books and serves more than 250,000 members.

Mrs. Pletcher with daughter Finley
Mrs. Pletcher with daughter Finley

Mrs. Jennifer Pletcher of Massachusetts wrote: “Our six-year-old daughter Finley has LCA (Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis). She only has 20% usable vision, and reading has always been a struggle for her. She got easily frustrated and didn’t want to read because it was difficult. She is just a beginning braille reader, so she was stuck in the middle of two worlds. We were introduced to Bookshare by her TVI (teacher for the visually impaired), and it has opened her world to reading. Because we could enlarge the print to any size she needed, she started to love to read. And when her eyes were tired, she could easily listen to the books she loved. Now Bookshare is a daily part of our lives. We have seen Finley grow and blossom thanks to what Bookshare had to offer someone with low vision, and we will be forever grateful.”


Watch YouTube videos of Finley reading on her iPad with Read2Go.  


Rachel with her grandfather eating ice cream.
Rachel with her grandfather holding a bowl of ice cream.

Cheryl Walker from Monrovia, Maryland, says, “To say that my daughter Rachel was not a reader before accessing Bookshare is an understatement. She was born with a rare genetic disorder that affected her visual acuity. She did not like to read, and knew she wasn’t good at it. During one of her IEP meetings, we asked for a technology assessment.  Access to Bookshare was given to her as an accommodation. What a difference it has made! Rachel regularly reads using the Bookshare app, Read2Go  on our iPad and now directly with Bookshare Web Reader.   She reads at least 20 minutes a night and most of the time longer! She has finished novels that her normally sighted peers are reading, both on and above grade level, and often asks for new books to be uploaded. Without Bookshare, we would still be struggling to get her to love reading. Thank you, Bookshare, for your collection of books and various reading technologies.”


One Comment

  1. Becky Logee

    I work with a student with low vision and spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. Before we discovered Bookshare, he loved to be read to by anyone. Now he is reading grade level texts using Bookshare and doing great on the tests of the material he is reading. This is the one part of his life that he can do completely independently, and that he loves! His family does not have a computer or internet access at home. They did get him a Kindle Fire.

    I have been trying to load the Darwin Reader app on this student’s Kindle Fire so he can continue to enjoy the benefits of Bookshare at home over the summer. Unfortunately I discovered that while the trial version has been approved by Amazon, the full version has not been approved for Kindles. This is hard for me to fathom. Unfortunately I have to wonder if this comes from a place of greed from Amazon. Access to Bookshare for people with print disabilities would mean they would not be buying books. I hope this assumption on my part is wrong.

    In case it is correct, I just joined twitter for the express purpose of tweeting about Amazon’s choice to prevent the Darwin Reader app from being available. My hope is that a smidge of pressure will force them to approve the Darwin Reader full app (not just the trial version). The Darwin Reader app would give Kindle users access to Bookshare. If you agree that Amazon should approve the Darwin Reader app for Kindle, please feel free to let Amazon this matters to you too. In the meantime, if you are considering a tablet of any kind for yourself or a child with a print disability, Amazon has thus far prevented Kindles from being accessible devices after the 30 day trial – you can buy books or use other free e-readers, but not Bookshare. Thanks for listening and considering! Thank you Bookshare for bringing so much joy to this child’s life, and other’s too!

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