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Bookshare Community Answers Challenges of 2021 and Looks Ahead to 2022

2021 continued to throw us pandemic curveballs, but the Bookshare community rose to the challenge and made reading possible for even more people with reading barriers.

As we jump into 2022, let’s take a brief look back at the stories and accomplishments from 2021 featuring dedicated teachers, impressive Bookshare members, the top ten most downloaded books, the Bookshare Book Club, and the new Bookshare Reader for smart speakers.

Educators are Difference Makers for Students with Disabilities

Joe Manzella, special education resource teacher, provides ebooks in alternate formats to students with learning challenges at Henry Ford Academy

Jamie Maier, Assistive Technology Specialist, shares her favorite digital tools and benefits of UDL to help students with reading barriers in an uncertain school environment

Natalie Shaheen, EdD, assistant professor of special education at Illinois State University, is a blind academic, teacher of future educators, and advocate for accessible educational materials

Bruce Alter, physical therapist and AT consultant, shares insights for fast-tracking students to get audio support from accessible ebooks to unlock the door to reading

Chantonette Lyles, Associate Director in the Office of Accessibility Services and Resources at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, urges college students with disabilities to be proactive and request the services and accommodations they need

Vicki Numkena, teacher of the visually impaired for Native students on the Navajo Reservation, uses audiobooks from Bookshare on favorite topics to “turn on” reluctant readers

Bookshare Members Shine Bright

Olga Borovaya, PhD, a university researcher and lecturer with a visual impairment, relies on Bookshare for immediate access to scholarly texts in accessible formats

Madison Saunders, an honors student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, went from hiding her dyslexia to embracing accommodations such as Bookshare audiobooks and Immersive Reader

Ella Johnson, a junior at Irondale High School, has dyslexia and has struggled with reading since first grade. Thanks to an array of digital tools, she is an honors student and is taking college-level courses.

Carroll Schuller is a career and life coach who leverages her intuition and creativity to help neurodiverse clients discover their unique strengths and match them to their life’s purpose

Bernie Perella, blind since age 7, has lived a rewarding life taking him from a small town in Pennsylvania, to Villanova University, a career at the National Security Agency, and an active retirement in Florida.

Justin Smith, a veteran Bookshare member and disability rights advocate who has cerebral palsy, discusses the joy of reading, books that transport him, and the critical role technology plays in his life.

Bookshare Collection Passes 1 Million Books

Benetech’s goal is to make all books and print materials accessible. This year we passed a momentous milestone of 1 million accessible ebooks in 67 languages. And – drum roll please – the top ten books with the most downloads by students are:

Bookshare Book Club Builds Community

The Bookshare Book Club, hosted by Bookshare staff members Amreen Ahmed and Michelle Chan, has been going strong for three years. Check the Bookshare blog in early January for the book selection and Zoom meeting information. In the meantime, explore the list of book club selections from 2019-2021.

Announcing Bookshare Reader for Smart Speakers

Get ready for a new, exciting way to read with Bookshare Reader for smart speakers (beta). Now, you can read and enjoy your books on any Alexa-enabled device. Simply tell Alexa to open Bookshare Reader and read a book. Learn more.

Get Involved

We invite you to connect and engage with the Bookshare community now and in 2022:

  • Subscribe to the Bookshare blog using the field in the upper right corner
  • Engage with the Bookshare community on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Make a donation to fund dyslexia screenings for students

To all of the Bookshare members, educators, parents, volunteers, and advocates, we appreciate all you do to make accessible reading enrich the lives of people who cannot read standard print. We can’t wait to see what 2022 will bring!

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