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Indiana Assistive Technology Expert Finds “Gem” in Bookshare

Special thanks to Laura Medcalf  for her contribution to the Bookshare blog. We appreciate the mission of the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project and Laura’s “on the record” testimonial. 

Laura in a sound-proof studio front of a microphone ready to record a podcast.“When you read my blog or listen to my podcasts for the Indiana Assistive Technology Act Project (INDATA), you will notice a common theme. I focus on one form of disability or assistive technology that benefits individuals with a single disability (e.g., visual impairment, hearing loss, autism, etc.).

Assistive technology is my passion and my goal is to educate Indiana patrons (“Go Hoosiers!”) and readers across the world who are interested in quality assistive technology resources.

“The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” –Assistive Technology Act of 1998Sometimes, through my research, I discover a resource that is a true gem because it can substantially and positively impact thousands of individuals with a myriad of disabilities, and Bookshare is one such gem.

The online accessible library combined with reading tools and apps are what I refer to as “evergreen” in the assistive technology world. The resource stands the test of time with a history of innovation and services that are more relevant and beneficial today, especially in educating K-12 youth and post-secondary students who qualify.

Six Reasons I Recommend Bookshare:

  1. Bookshare’s mission and functionality fit the description of what AT is meant to accomplish: improving the functional capabilities of people with disabilities.
  2. Bookshare benefits persons of all ages with print disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, or those who have a physical or learning disability.
  3. The library helps people with print disabilities become independent and self-reliant.
  4. The collection has an abundance of digital accessible titles to satisfy diverse interests from academic to professional and self-development to leisure.
  5. Members can read accessible ebooks with various reading tools and apps to accommodate many learning and reader preferences.
  6. Membership is free for U.S. schools and students who qualify.

My longtime respect for Bookshare continues as does my hope that more people with print disabilities can truly enjoy a universal and equitable reading experience. I will continue to cover the evolution and benefits of the online library in my blogs and podcasts as I truly believe it can help to remove barriers so that more individuals can be recognized for their abilities rather than their disabilities. Giving the gift of this reading resource is truly a gem of an opportunity and we can all celebrate that.”

Learn More with link

About Bookshare

Visit the Bookshare website to sign up as an organization if you represent a U.S. school. For parents or caregivers, you can sign a child up for an individual membership. Both options are free for U.S. students who qualify. There is a minimal annual subscription for non-student and international members.

INDATA and Easter Seals Crossroads logoAbout Laura Medcalf and INDATA

Laura Medcalf studied special education and creative writing at Ball State University. She is responsible for researching and writing content for INDATA and hosting the Accessibility Minute Podcast, a sixty-second podcast covering everything on accessibility which airs on Fridays.

Easter Seals Crossroads has been providing assistive technology solutions in Indiana since 1979. In 2007, it partnered with the State of Indiana, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, to establish the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project. Core services include: information and referral, funding assistance, public awareness and education, device demonstration, device loan, and re-utilized computers and equipment. The project is one of fifty-six similar federally-funded projects designed to increase access to and awareness of assistive technology.  To find a similar project in another US state or territory, visit: www.RESNAProjects.org.

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