Raising academic performance to meet the mandates of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a
critical mission for school leaders, yet finding solutions to accommodate diverse student populations across districts and schools can be overwhelming and costly.
Students with learning disabilities or visual impairments, for example, have difficulty reading print books. Often, they need accommodations like audio, large print, or braille to make classroom and homework materials accessible.
The effort and resources required to produce accessible educational materials (AEM) is significant. Teachers and librarians struggle to find textbooks and Common Core materials in accessible formats. Parents stress about support for their children. And students who do not get the support they need fall behind in their classwork, sometimes leading to frustration, behavioral issues, and a decline in academic performance that can impact life during and after school.
In U.S. public schools, an estimated 2.4 million students* have a learning disability, like dyslexia. Add to this large population students who are visually or physically impaired, and the goal to provide equal learning opportunities for students with disabilities becomes far reaching for school administrators. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Bookshare: A Proven, No Cost Reading Solution for U.S. Schools and Districts
To address the needs of students with print disabilities, thousands of U.S. schools and districts have signed up for Bookshare, a free resource funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education.
Bookshare is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks with over 450,000 titles in accessible formats that lets students read in ways that work for them. Members can listen to words read aloud, follow along with highlighted text, read with large fonts, and read in braille.
With a deep and diverse collection, Bookshare is an invaluable resource for teachers and librarians serving students with disabilities across an entire school or district. They can save precious time and effort getting textbooks, Common Core materials, children’s and young adult books, bestsellers, college prep materials, and more. In so doing, educators can provide equal learning opportunities to students who need reading accommodations.
To join Bookshare, students must have a qualifying print disability that prevents them from reading print books. Qualified U.S. students and schools/districts can sign up for free and unlimited access to Bookshare. They also get free reading tools they can use on computers, Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones.
Change the Future for More Students Like Laura
“Bookshare has opened a world of knowledge and academic achievement for my daughter and
thousands like her,” said Judie Gutierrez of Redwood City, California.
Laura Gutierrez dreaded reading. For years her family agonized about her reading decline. Then they discovered accessible ebooks through Bookshare.
“Laura’s comprehension and fluency skills increased,” said her mom. “She is happier and learning. Her teachers say that she is well on her way to grade-level reading. Accessible ebooks changed her future!”
Successful Readers Become High Achievers
School leaders who encourage the use of accessible ebooks to promote reading equality and overall reading skill improvement can make a world of difference academically and socially for more students with print disabilities.
These students will read comprehensively and have a better chance of reading on grade level, reading
independently, participating in general education, and reading for a lifetime.
Why not start today by scheduling a discussion with your teaching, special education, and curriculum staff about the value of accessible ebooks and Bookshare?
This online library can be an effective educational resource that administrators, educators, school boards, PTAs, students, and their families can get behind.
*Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)