Teamwork is the name of the game when it comes to supporting students with print disabilities
Back to school is a challenging transition for all students, but it is especially difficult for students with visual, physical, or learning disabilities. Getting the books they need in a format that is accessible requires a collaborative effort between parents and educators. Sometimes parents are the first to discover valuable resources for their son or daughter, and sometimes teachers are the catalysts who enlist the parents’ help. It doesn’t matter who leads the charge as long as students get the tools they need to start the school year off on the right foot.
Jessica Prest, mother of ten-year-old Lily, noticed how much Lily was struggling with reading. She took her to a neuropsychologist who diagnosed her with dyslexia. Like many Bookshare parents, Jessica began her own research and took to the Twittersphere to find answers. “I read educational discussions using the hashtag #edchat,” shared Jessica. “I kept reading about technologies and ebooks and how they supported readers with disabilities, so I asked Lily’s school about Bookshare.”
Lily began using Bookshare at home and eventually got on an IEP (Individualized Education Program) that allowed her to also receive reading accommodations at school. She uses Bookshare to download accessible versions of books like Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, onto her iPad mini and reads them with apps like Voice Dream that let her listen to words read aloud and follow along with highlighted text. Jessica said, “She loved the story and could not stop reading it. What a difference! Daily reading is no longer such a struggle. Ebooks enable Lily to read and reread a story. It reinforced Lily’s ability to understand what she reads. Now, she loves to read.”
Parent Meetings Start the Bookshare Process
At the beginning of each school year, Melissa Hawkins, a Baltimore middle school special education teacher, meets with parents whose children qualify for Bookshare. She demonstrates how easy it is to read an accessible book on technology, like an iPad or Kurzweil 3000, a computer software program that includes a link to Bookshare on its dashboard. Hawkins also suggests Bookshare Web Reader, a free and popular tool that enables student members to read Bookshare ebooks directly within an Internet browser.
“I try to get students hooked on their first Bookshare book early in the school year. This makes them more accountable and independent. Technology gives them freedom and autonomy. They don’t stand out in class and aren’t embarrassed because a teacher or paraprofessional has to read to them.”
In addition, Hawkins holds a bring-your-own-device night to help parents and students learn to use Bookshare, find books of interest, and choose reading tools. Her efforts help students and parents lay the groundwork for a successful school year.
Bookshare Back-to-School Resources Are a Click Away
Are you a parent or teacher who is familiar with Bookshare but needs some help getting up to speed? Start by visiting the Back-to-School Resource page for tips, improved reading tools, and new self-service features.
Check out our Back-to-School playlist on YouTube containing helpful videos to get students up and running with Bookshare.
And finally, don’t forget to sign up for one of our free webinars:
Beginner Tips for Back to School with Bookshare, September 15 at 10:00 am PST
Advanced Tips for Back to School with Bookshare, September 16 at 10:00 am PST
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