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School-to-Home Access for Print-Disabled Students Includes Digital Books, iPads and Apps

Jessica Chandler, Teacher at Middletown Schools, Ohio
Jessica Chandler, Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist

We want to thank Jessica Chandler, an Ohio Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for sharing this article. It’s about the spirit of teamwork in her district and working together to extend reading opportunities for students with print disabilities from school to home. Ms. Chandler is a Bookshare Mentor Teacher.

Kudos to District’s Special Education Administrator!

Dr. Deborah Turner, Special Education Administrator for Middletown, OH Public Schools
Dr. Deborah Turner, Special Education Administrator for Middletown, OH Public Schools

Jessica credits her district’s Special Education Administrator, Dr. Deborah Turner, for her forward-thinking approach.

“I applaud Dr. Turner’s vision to use digital accessible books and reading technologies to help students prepare early for reading assignments and to train all special education teachers,” she says.  “Our program has empowered more school-to-home access and independent learners.  We’ve helped to make homework nights more manageable and identified the right technology accommodations for students who are not able to read standard print well.”

Chandler says the ‘school-to-home’ access mission in her district is far ahead of the game!  “We’ve been visited by neighboring educators who want to learn about our model. These visits are a nice compliment to our district and Dr. Turner’s mission. Her vision makes it easy for training special education teachers and students, so that each group gets the tools and support they need. Also, we’re complying with the legislation in Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.”

In her district, high school students with a qualified print disability hold individual memberships to Bookshare.  And the district provides teachers and students with iPads and Bookshare’s  Read2Go app.  For downloading NIMAC textbooks, the district also has a Bookshare Organization Membership.

Empowering Independent Learners

Jessica believes students with print disabilities can become more independent learners when we empower them to use digital accessible books and technologies. “I just received a text from a student who said, I’m reading House on Mango Street from Bookshare and I just love the Read2go app!”  Bookshare developed the Read2Go app to use on Apple devices, such as the iPad.  Bookshare also offers Go Read, a free Android app, to members.

As a mobility specialist, on any school day, you’ll find Jessica traveling to K-12 schools to train students on how to navigate busy streets, catch a bus, or download a digital book on a computer, tablet or smart phone. She regularly trains her faculty on new Bookshare enhancements.  They are now Bookshare sponsors and download textbooks for students who qualify.

Summer Learning for Students and Teachers

Last summer, Jessica collaborated with co-workers to train more high school students to download the Google Chrome browser and use Bookshare’s Web Reader tool to read etext directly from the Internet with text-to-speech computer voices.“No software required,” she says!

During her trainings, she encourages students to talk about their reading challenges and the tools and strategies they now have to succeed.  “This gathering is a time where students can build a network of friendships and know they are not alone. They all agree that having Bookshare and the knowledge to use different technology devices at school and home is a pretty cool thing!”

Lifelong Learning for this Bookshare Mentor Teacher

When Jessica is not traveling from school to school, holding student and faculty trainings, or helping a student set up their required Reading Lists, she likes to listen and watch Bookshare webinars to keep abreast of new enhancements to the library.

“I get on my elliptical machine with headphones and peddle away,” she said.  “I like that a Bookshare staffer shares new updates with our network so we can continue the mission together to share new ideas and best practices to help even more students feel empowered to read and learn anytime and anywhere!”

Kristina Cohen working on a computer.
Kristina Cohen – Bookshare Education Manager in Training Session.

About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program

The Bookshare Mentor Teacher program began in 2010 to support the nation’s top teachers and assistive technologists with training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online library and reading technologies.  Since that time, over 500 educators and specialists have joined the network. They work in their local communities and schools to advocate on behalf of students with print disabilities.  They also develop and share best practices across the United States.



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