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Survey Says! Back-to-School Insights from Teachers of Students with Reading Barriers

All teachers understand the importance of giving students all the resources and tools they need to start school strong on day one. For students with disabilities, this readiness is even more critical since it is easy for them to fall behind. To assess the level of back-to-school preparedness for both teachers and students, Benetech, the parent company of Bookshare, recently surveyed 744 teachers across the United States who serve students with reading barriers including dyslexia, low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that interferes with reading. The survey asked if teachers felt prepared to start the school year, and if their students felt ready to start the school year.

Teachers Feel Prepared…Students: Not So Much

The respondents were special education teachers, the majority of them current or past Bookshare members. A little more than two-thirds of teachers said they were prepared for the new year. But only about 40 percent said that they agreed that their pupils with reading disabilities were prepared. About 39 percent said they neither agreed nor disagreed with that statement, and nearly 22 percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Three Factors Contribute to Student Readiness

The instructors surveyed said they were more likely to believe their students were prepared for the new year if they also agreed that their students had access to accessible texts and appropriate technology, and if the teachers felt supported by their administrators with the resources that the teachers need.

“The Benetech Back-to-School Survey takes the pulse of the dedicated teachers who serve students with reading barriers,” said Brad Turner, VP of Global Literacy, Benetech. “While numerous factors contribute to teachers feeling they and their students are prepared, the survey data shows that three factors pull significant weight with students and teachers: support from school administration, access to books in various formats, and access to technology resources. Other potential factors such as types of reading barriers, school location, and number of students did not demonstrate a large impact on feelings of student preparedness.”

View a detailed analysis of the data including an interactive data visualization. An extended alt-text description of the data visualization is also available.

Bookshare is an ebook library that makes reading easier. You can read in ways that work for you with ebooks in audio, audio + highlighted text, large text, and braille. With over 650,000 titles, you are sure to find the books you need for school, work, and the joy of reading. Bookshare is FREE for all qualified U.S. students and less than $1 per week for all other members.   

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