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Benetech Summer Interns Dive Deep into Bookshare

By guest author Mercedes Mack, Bookshare Operations Associate

Benetech’s Summer Internship Program is now in its fourth year, and with maturity comes evolution.

Benetech summer interns left to right: Cathy Vu, Josephine Kong, Reece Jones, Abhinav Arya, and Justin Yu
Benetech summer interns left to right: Cathy Vu, Josephine Kong, Reece Jones, Abhinav Arya, and Justin Yu

This year we had a mix of high school and college students who worked on Bookshare-related projects with specific focus in two areas: data analysis and member experience. Our interns – Justin Yu, Cathy Vu, Josephine Kong, Abhinav Arya, and Reece Jones – did amazing work for our Bookshare team and were such a delight to work with this summer.

Intern Projects

Justin Yu, an incoming freshman to Santa Clara University, conducted data analysis of our books received by our publisher partners. He searched for trends in download numbers among our different publisher partners to shed more light on what types of books are popular. Justin also input many children’s books into the collection, as well as corrected an astounding amount of metadata inaccuracies in our collection. “My time at Benetech was a unique and enlightening one. Not only did I learn how Bookshare worked and how to proof books, I also had the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse cast of workers, some with disabilities of their own.”

Cathy Vu, a fourth-year student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, conducted data analysis on download trends of the K-12 portion of our Bookshare membership. She found that reading for pleasure has increased through rising download rates of popular titles like The Adventures of Captain Underpants series and The Hunger Games. Cathy also did an excellent job describing images for our children’s picture book requests. Check out If a Bus Could Talk to read some of her beautiful descriptions. “Benetech embodies the phrase ‘work hard, play hard.’ Being a part of Benetech has been the most rewarding part of my summer.”

Josephine Kong is a senior at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View. She evaluated Bookshare’s efficacy and exposure in the dyslexic community. She also evaluated Bookshare’s Web Reader and other reading tools to determine how helpful they are to dyslexic readers. Her thorough research into this bridge serves as a foundation for Bookshare staff as we continue to expand our connection with the dyslexic community. Josephine led the efforts in replacing many of the outdated titles in the Bookshare collection sourced from Project Guttenberg. She replaced 267 titles with newer EPUB3 versions for an improved reading experience. “I can confidently say that I was able to use my skills to make a difference for others because I was able to learn and thrive in Benetech’s welcoming environment.”

Abhinav Arya is a sophomore at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. He did a comprehensive evaluation of Bookshare’s Help Center. His thoughtful and well-researched recommendations on layout, content, and function gave us valuable insight into the future possibilities of the Help Center. Abhinav also did valuable work on the Project Guttenberg project, as well as fixing metadata inaccuracies in the collection. “This internship has provided me with valuable workplace experience and insight into accessibility. I enjoyed working on multiple projects and collaborating with the other interns.”

Reece Jones is a senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco. He evaluated our current methods of making content accessible in house specifically using the children’s chapter book series Geronimo Stilton. Bookshare has many of the titles in the series; however, they are not accessible to our visually-impaired members. Reece was able to identify key areas for improvement in our scanning and proofing processes. And because of his work, we hope to add some accessible Geronimo Stilton titles in the future. “This being my first experience in the work force, it was very rewarding to realize that the work we’ve done here won’t just stop; it’s going to go on to help students across the world for years to come.”

Our interns added tremendous value to our organization through their project work, fresh perspective, and diligent work ethic. They will certainly be missed, and we wish them much success in their academic pursuits.


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