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Vision Loss Hasn’t Stopped Veteran from Pursuing Career and Personal Goals

Brian Higgins standing with his cane
Brian Higgins preparing for the white cane walk.

Brian Higgins is a six-year member of Bookshare. He is also a member of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and a Supervisor of Computer Access and Technology in the Western Blind Rehab Center located in Palo Alto, California.

Brian likes the Bookshare library because of its vast collection of titles and the team’s responsiveness to his professional needs. “I’ve taken college textbooks for a Veteran returning to college in to Bookshare and they scan it,” he said. “And I also like to recommend Bookshare’s new special collection of military titles to my friends at the BVA.”

At work, Brian trains young adults, seniors, and disabled Veterans about computers, technology, and access. Individuals who come to his center may be returning to school, learning a new vocation, or using a computer for the first time. Brian teaches them about digital accessible books.

Since suffering vision loss 15 years ago, Brian has counted on the library for personal and professional eBooks. “Bookshare provides resources that I could not readily find prior to membership. I like to read history and am always on the hunt for books on electrical engineering, and computer programming, as well as college textbooks and technical manuals. Bookshare has them!”

Brian demonstrates his robotic dog for Bookshare staffer, Cherie Miller.
Brian demonstrates his robotic dog for Bookshare staffer, Cherie Miller.

Brian uses an iPad with Bookshare’s easy-to-use eReader app, Read2Go. He just downloaded “Natural Language Processing with Python” to investigate computer programming for an electronic guide dog robot he developed. “Some of your independence goes away, like driving, when you lose your vision,” he said. “I’m always thinking about how to use technology to help others—a similar mission to that of Benetech, Bookshare’s parent nonprofit organization. A robotic guide dog may be another good alternative to man’s best friend.”

Bookshare for Disabled Veterans

Today, Bookshare serves over 250,000 members with qualified print disabilities, including persons who are blind or have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability like dyslexia. The library is free to any U.S. student who qualifies, including disabled Veterans, thanks to awards made by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

For nonstudent disabled Veterans who qualify, Bookshare offers a free 30 day trial membership where 20 digital accessible books can be downloaded and free reading tools and apps can be used.

After the trial, an annual fee of $50 allows full access to Bookshare’s collection of over 210,000 accessible eBooks, including a special military collection.  Titles can be easily searched, downloaded, and read on a variety of devices like a computer, tablet, smart phone, MP3 player, or refreshable braille device.

Disabled Veterans receiving services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through the Vocational, Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VET Success) may also be eligible for a free membership. Veterans’ hospitals and related associations can contact

To sign up and for more information visit:

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