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. 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.
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.”