This post was originally featured on the Accessible Books for Texas (ABT) website. It features Reagan Reeves, a bright student with dyslexia, who not only used Bookshare to stay on track with his reading goals, but far exceeded them to become a top Accelerated Reader.
This Texas eighth grader proudly says to his mom with a big smile, “I’ve downloaded and read over 200 digital books!” His mom, Michelle, smiles too! Inside she is beaming because, finally, her son has embraced an educational resource that supports his reading challenges. Reagan listens to accessible ebooks read aloud on portable technology devices. Last year, he received an award for having accumulated the most Accelerated Reader points in his class.
“This is a big deal!” says Michelle. She knows firsthand how difficult it is for her son to read standard print because both she and Reagan are dyslexic. “In his early years, Reagan did not like to read at all. Now, he downloads digital books on his iPhone by himself and uses an iPad Mini to read with an app called Read2Go. He even reads for pleasure outside of school. This is a common practice for children, but not for my son, until recently.”
A year and a half ago, Michelle signed up her son for Bookshare, an online library of accessible ebooks that is free to U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities such as blindness, low vision, physical disabilities, and reading disabilities. The resource and technology helped Reagan become more confident and tech savvy.
“He feels cool now that his teachers allow him to read school assignments on his phone,” said Michelle, who is a Bilingual/ESL and Dyslexia Specialist for the Region 8 Educational Service Center in Texas. She often trains teachers and parents in reading resources to support students with dyslexia. “Every opportunity I get, I share Reagan’s story and tell them about Bookshare and accessibility. I say, get your kids Individual Bookshare Memberships and give them a library in their pocket!”
Reagan downloads and reads many popular book series from Bookshare. His favorites are: Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Divergent, and Harry Potter. He likes to listen to the text read aloud, often called text-to-speech or TTS. Michelle says, “TTS helps him to read longer, because he quickly tires from looking at standard print.
“His teachers tell me that he’s always reading, even when he shouldn’t be,” she chuckles. “My son has fallen in love with reading! Last year, he read on a fourth-grade level. Today, he reads on an 11th grade level. This transformation speaks volumes for identifying the right resources to help children who are dyslexic be successful.”
Visit Accessible Books for Texas to learn more about local professional development and training for Texas educators and families. Sign up today for an Individual Membership to Bookshare and to learn more about opening a new world to reading.
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Christine Jones is a Senior Education Program Manager for Bookshare and Accessible Books for Texas. She has more than two decades of experience in technology marketing, education, and nonprofit program management. Christine received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.