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Creating Equal District and Schoolwide Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Raising academic performance to meet the mandates of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a

Ben Cooper, a student with dyslexia, demonstrates to school administrators how he reads accessible educational ebooks on his tablet.
Ben Cooper, a student with dyslexia, demonstrates to school administrators how he reads accessible educational ebooks on his tablet.

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 Logo for U.S. Office of Special Education Programs - Ideas that Work 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

Judie Gutierrez with Laura, her daughter, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade.
Judie Gutierrez with Laura, her daughter, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade.

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

This chart highlights Laura Gutierrez's skill improvements in English class from 2012 to 2015 using accessible ebooks to learn.
This chart highlights Laura Gutierrez’s skill improvements in English class from 2012 to 2015 using accessible ebooks to learn.

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)

 

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20 Comments

  1. heidi Clark

    I am inclusion gr 3 teacher – 1 student w dyslexia. He is reading at gr 1 level. Is this a service I could utilize for him?

    • Bookshare Communications

      Hello Ms. Clark (Heidi):
      Thank you for your question and for the work you do in education. Yes, dyslexia is a qualified print disability and Bookshare has all kinds of accessible ebooks for students of varying reading levels and interests in the collection. Membership for U.S. schools and students who qualify is at no cost. Please refer to these pages on the Bookshare website: Who Qualifies and Sign Up. Many regards!

  2. Sofia

    Hi, are community colleges included in “US Schools”?

  3. Cindy

    Hi, My son Kory has dyslexia…..how much would it be for us to access this system??

    • Bookshare Communications

      Cindy: Is Kory a U.S. student? Bookshare is FREE for qualified U.S. students of any age and schools through an award from OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education). Learn more: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/Bookshare-me/what-does-it-cost

      In order to become a Bookshare member, an expert must confirm that Kory has a print disability that severely inhibits or prevents him from reading traditional print materials. Qualifying disabilities include blindness, low vision, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and physical disabilities. Learn more: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/bookshare-me/who-qualifies

      • CINDY SWEENEY

        HI,
        I HOMESCHOOL MY KIDS BECAUSE THEY WOULDN’T HELP MY SON READ SO I TOOK HIM TO A DYSLEXIC TUTOR AND NOW HE READS.
        I DO HAVE A WRITTEN PAPER FROM THE SPECIALIST IN IOWA CITY THAT STATES KORY HAS DYSLEXIA….WOULD THAT BE ENOUGH?? CINDY

  4. Daisy Warren

    Does a child with a specific learning disability in the area of reading comprehension qualify?

    • Bookshare Communications

      Daisy: Thank you for your interest in Bookshare. In order to qualify for Bookshare membership, an expert must confirm that the student has a print disability that severely inhibits or prevents him or her from reading traditional print materials. Qualifying disabilities include blindness, low vision, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and physical disabilities. Learn more about who qualifies: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/bookshare-me/who-qualifies

  5. Anupriya Srivastava

    Hi, Are the books available for students of other countries? I am going to teach a blind student this term and I am looking for free online resources for him. Please help.

    • Bookshare Communications

      Anupriya: which country are you in? What language(s) does the student speak and read? If you can provide some additional information I can answer your question.

  6. Sherry Russell

    Do students who have “academic fluency” or testing that reflects trouble with tracking (from board to notes, working on bubble tests) things like that qualify? Thank you!

    • Bookshare Communications

      Sherry: Thank you for your interest in Bookshare. In order to qualify for Bookshare membership, an expert must confirm that the student has a print disability that severely inhibits or prevents him or her from reading traditional print materials. Qualifying disabilities include blindness, low vision, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and physical disabilities. Learn more about who qualifies: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/bookshare-me/who-qualifies

  7. Peter F Farrant

    Hi,
    I am a teacher in Australia, am I able to access bookshare for a student with vision impairment?

  8. Cindy

    How would I confirm that my child has a learning disability and struggles reading traditional print in books? Would the special education resource teacher be able to sign soemthing as sufficient proof? If there a form to fill out?

  9. Jessica

    I work as a special education director for a private residential treatment school. Would we qualify for a free account as long as we are within the US?

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