Catherine Fortney, an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Facilitator at the Francis Howell School District in St. Charles, Missouri, says her Bookshare student members love Individual Memberships and Student Logins—a new feature that lets students log in on their own and read assigned books wherever they want.
Students’ Reading Transformations
Fortney also likes to share stories of transformation with colleagues, administrators, and parents. “Transformative stories fortify the value of Bookshare,” she says. “The online accessible library is a game changer in special education, especially for students with learning, vision, and physical disabilities, such as muscular dystrophy.”
Gabby, a high school student with a learning disability, transformed into an independent reader after learning how to read with Bookshare using her Individual Membership login. “She was so excited that she could actually go home and read books on her own,” says Fortney. “Reading independence happens more frequently when students use Bookshare to its fullest advantage.”
Jonathan, now a junior in high school, began using Bookshare in middle school. At that time, he was reading at a second grade level, but could comprehend materials on grade level if they were read aloud. Today, he is on track academically and reading independently. He aspires to attend college and pursue a medical career—a field Fortney says is “well within his reach.”
Technology, Training, and Communication
Fortney, an 18-year veteran of the educational system, learned about Bookshare when searching for reading solutions at a Closing the Gap conference a number of years ago. Initially, her district set up several training sessions to ensure that all students who qualify for Bookshare receive the opportunity. Fortney’s district then took it to the next level by also emphasizing continual Bookshare training. Last year, it received a state grant to purchase iPads and apps, and Bookshare became a valuable resource for core academic and supplemental reading.
“We encouraged high school teachers to participate first so that older students who qualified were signed up for Bookshare Individual Memberships,” says Fortney. “Students are smart and technologically savvy; we only had to show them once how to download books and they got it! Our district is thankful for Bookshare and all the new features that make the online library effective. Today, many more accessible books are available and our district has developed an effective system to manage the resource. Through the accessible library, so many more students with print disabilities can become independent and effective readers. I just love it!”
About the Bookshare Mentor Teacher Program
Catherine Fortney is a Bookshare Mentor Teacher. This program supports the world’s top teachers and assistive technology specialists. It provides training tools to engage educators, parents, and students in the effective use of Bookshare’s online accessible library and reading technologies. Over 700 educators and specialists work in their local communities and schools to advocate on behalf of students with print disabilities. Bookshare Mentor Teachers also develop and share best practices with other teachers around the globe.