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Omree Sabo, High School Student with Dyslexia, Advocates for Ebooks

Bookshare member dives into the deep end of reading with accessible ebooks!

Omree Sabo sitting on his couch with his laptop and a thumbs up.Omree Sabo, a sophomore at Redwood High School in Marin County, California, is an avid user of Bookshare; so much so that he decided to help other students and teachers at his school and in his county learn about the free, online  library of accessible ebooks for U.S. students who cannot read standard print.

“Bookshare gets a big thumbs up from me,” says Omree. “I don’t know where my grades would be if my parents had not found Bookshare and signed me up for an Individual Membership.”

In second grade, Omree recalls being pulled out of class to be tested by a reading specialist. “I felt ashamed when my elementary teachers asked me to read aloud and I couldn’t,” he says. “In school, most teachers, including some in special education, did not know about a Bookshare Organizational Membership for schools. They did not realize that the resource is free and could give kids, like me, access to digital textbooks and reading assignments in digital formats like the one I just read for English: Romeo and Juliet.”

During his freshman year, Omree worked on a school project to learn about assistive technologies and how they support students with learning disabilities. He contacted Bookshare to ask for literature to share with his peers and school administrators in his district.

“I found that most students with reading and writing disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) did not know about or use Bookshare,” he said. “As a result, most were not considering college. I completely understood how they felt, but this was not acceptable. How are kids with dyslexia supposed to read textbooks without audio assistance? Some statistics say that less than ten percent of students with reading disabilities finish college because they cannot handle the high-level reading material. Bookshare helped me to recognize that I am a very good student. I was always good at math and science, and now I like to read.”

Book Cover of The Alchemyst by Michael ScottFor required reading at school, Omree has read The Secret Life of Bees, works by William Shakespeare, and The Alchemyst from Bookshare. He intends to look for test preparation materials in Bookshare so that he can study for the SAT and ACT prior to attending college where he plans to study computer programming or science.

He reads ebooks on his iPad with apps like Read2Go and Voice Dream Reader, and also on his laptop using Bookshare Web Reader directly from an internet browser. Students can read Bookshare books on a wide variety of software apps, tablets, smartphones, and assistive technology devices.

“Listening to ebooks read aloud through text-to-speech while seeing the words highlighted helped me recognize how much I can learn while reading,” he said. “I also like to set my own reading preferences so I can look up words in the dictionary and take notes to study for exams.”

Book Cover of Michael Phelps by Jeffrey Zuehlke with photo of Michael swimming butterflyWhen he’s not involved in a school project, Omree loves to play guitar and swim. He idolizes Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medal swimmer. When out of the pool, he reads popular teen series like Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter and likes to stay up to date on news and politics.

“Reading digital text helps me to pay attention and read for longer periods of time,” says Omree. “I like information that makes me think. I like to help people and want other kids with dyslexia to receive the accommodations they need for their reading disabilities, like assistive technologies and Bookshare. Then, they will be able to read well too. With Bookshare’s collection, I can dive into books and be like Michael Phelps — having no limits to hold me back. If that happens, then people with dyslexia can do well in school and go to college.”

Sign Up for Bookshare Today!

Bookshare’s online accessible library has over 484,000 titles including textbooks, Common Core materials, educational titles, bestsellers, children’s books, and more. The library is free for U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities that prevent them from reading printed text. Bookshare is an initiative of a technology nonprofit called Benetech and is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education.

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2 Comments

  1. Kimberly Koehler

    Omree is the perfect example of what a student with a reading disability can do if he or she does it correctly. Most of my students have been taught that they cannot read at all and must be given all answers because they are stupid or that they need someone to read material to them and then have the answers told to them. Another thing that I see is students being given passing grades, or in some instances, automatic A’s just because they have a learning disability.

    I have tried to teach them to listen while reading along. But by the time they get to me in high school, it is difficult to get them to understand that reading can be amazing and that they have the potential for anything.

    • Bookshare Communications

      Hi Kimberly: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience as an educator. We hope that more students, like Omree, and educators, like you, will investigate accessible ebooks to enrich the reading experience and reading equality in support of students with qualified print disabilities.

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