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Back to School 2020: Special Education Students Can Learn Anywhere with Bookshare

With so much uncertainty in the school environment, one thing teachers can count on is a reliable source of ebooks for special education students

Instead of the familiar rituals of shopping for school supplies and the anticipation of meeting teachers and seeing friends, this year’s back to school is a fog of uncertainty filled with apprehension. The coronavirus pandemic has turned traditional education inside out and upside down while teachers and parents scramble to put alternate plans in place that satisfy the often mutually exclusive goals of educating all students while keeping them safe from a serious health risk.

Reliable Source of Ebooks for Special Education Students

Some schools are offering blended learning where students spend a few days in down-sized classrooms and the other days doing online classes from home. Still other schools are starting with 100% distance learning and then phasing in on-site classes to small cohorts of students in “learning pods.”

No matter what the school environment looks like, the stakes are even higher for students with learning differences. How can teachers provide books in alternate formats so students with reading barriers like dyslexia, blindness, and cerebral palsy can complete assignments, no matter where and how learning is taking place?

Bookshare Makes the New Reality of Education Less Uncertain

Teachers have a long checklist to prepare for an ever-changing school environment. One uncertainty that Bookshare can address is providing free ebooks and reading tools for special education students so they can learn anywhere and anytime. Bookshare already serves over 750,000 U.S. students. Its library of accessible ebooks provides:

  • 900,000 ebooks: Free and seamless access between class and home to 900,000 ebooks for school assignments and fun reading
  • Multiple formats: Easy-to-read formats like audio, audio + highlighted text, large font, braille, and Word that lets students customize their reading experience to suit their individual learning style
  • Multiple devices and apps: Compatibility with favorite devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, Chromebooks, and braille readers as well as popular reading apps like Dolphin EasyReader and Voice Dream Reader
  • Online help: Free customer support and access to training to get started with Bookshare

We do not know how the 2020-2021 school year will look, so it’s important that we prepare all students, especially those with disabilities, to complete more work independently. I hope that educators and parents equip students with learning disabilities with AT tools that provide academic independence. At a time when children may not be benefiting from in-school support, they can use AT to get the help they need.

Jamie Martin, Assistive Technology Specialist

Back-to-School Resource Toolkit for Educators

To help teachers prepare for a successful back to school, the Bookshare staff has assembled a collection of valuable resources, tips, step-by-step guides, video tutorials, curated reading lists, and webinars. Visit the back-to-school resource page for details:

Button that says Learn More and links to the Back to School landing page

A student in third grade remarked that when she uses technology tools, she can read better and has discovered a love of reading that she didn’t realize she could have. When we intentionally leverage these tools and resources with our students, we not only honor the individual student, but we are helping to build agency, advocacy, and identity.

Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Assistive Technology Specialist

From Classroom to Couch, Bookshare Has You Covered

Call it the new normal, new abnormal, or the now normal, Bookshare is your trusted partner to help you navigate these uncharted waters so you can teach anywhere, students can learn anywhere, and parents can support their students anywhere.

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