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Bookshare and Assistive Technology Help Young Adult Pursue Dreams

Elina and her mom Karla, and their guide dog, Zoe
Elina and her mom Karla, and their guide dog, Zoe

Elina Hughes has athetoid cerebral palsy which makes it almost impossible for her to hold a book or pencil, yet this disability doesn’t stop her from pursing her dreams, acquiring knowledge, attending college, and creating beautiful works of art using two important resources: Bookshare and assistive technology (AT).

In 2015, Elina and her mom, Karla Hughes, created a video, “Assistive Technology Rocks My Classroom,” to submit to President Obama for the White House Student Film Festival. This amazing mother-daughter duo are on a mission to emphasize the need for more assistive technology in the classroom and to shine a spotlight on the accomplishments a person with severe disabilities can achieve. Watch the video and be inspired as Mrs. Hughes describes her daughter’s progression through elementary and high school and as Elina demonstrates how she uses technology to pursue her creative interests and lifelong dreams.

Elina & Zoe Canine Angel Assistance Team - CopyElina’s World – Reading, Learning, and Art

At age nine, Elina’s family and teachers encouraged her to use assistive technology and conductive education therapy, an innovative teaching and learning approach to reading, writing, communication, and math. Conductive therapy is an educational system specifically developed for children and adults who have motor disorders of neurological origin such as cerebral palsy.

At this time, Mrs. Hughes also signed her daughter up for a Bookshare Individual Membership so that Elina could find accessible books for school and pursue her interest in art.

Original artwork by Bookshare member Elina Hughes of her beloved grandparents.
Original artwork by Elina Hughes of her beloved grandparents.

By age twelve, she was proficient using technology to draw and paint. She won an “All Kids Can Create,” award by the Very Special Arts Kennedy Foundation, an international organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.

In high school, Elina excelled in all subjects, including Spanish. Today, at age eighteen, she attends Citrus Community College in Glendora, California, and plans to study public relations. She also intends to learn to communicate in other languages using assistive technology. Both Elina and her mom are confident that Bookshare will play a continuing role in providing accessible textbooks for her postsecondary studies and artistic outlets.

Elina with Bookshare staffer Ginny Grant and Zoe.
Elina with Bookshare staffer Ginny Grant and Zoe.

Elina reads on an iPad and loves using her iPhone 6 Plus. Using an AT device to communicate, she recently told a Bookshare product manager, Ginny Grant, that she is reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer to get inspired for a weekend trip

We wish Elina all the success in the world and thank her and her mom for their continued advocacy on behalf of children and adults with disabilities. With the right resources, everyone can pursue their unique talents and interests and be successful in school and in life.

Bookshare Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Bookshare’s library of over 370,000 digital accessible ebooks can facilitate lifelong learning and help you advance your career, acquire new skills, and expand your professional knowledge. During November we are offering a special discount on adult memberships. Stay tuned for detailed information.


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