Not all ebooks are the same for students with special needs – here’s why
PDFs, audiobooks, and ebooks from online libraries and apps have become a popular way for students to access assignments, especially during COVID-19. While these digital forms of learning materials are convenient for learning at school or home, it is important to note that not all ebooks and audiobooks are created equal. Some show text, some provide audio read aloud, and others let you adjust fonts. However, do they provide the type of support that students with special needs like dyslexia, visual impairments, or physical disabilities need?
Here are five reasons to select ebooks that are most accessible to students with learning differences versus other digital materials.
Designed for students with learning differences
Whereas most ebooks are designed for general classroom learning, accessible ebooks have specialized features that make reading easier for students with particular disabilities and learning styles.
Provide more customization
Accessible ebooks allow students to customize their experience and read in ways that work for them with features likes audio, audio + highlighted text, braille, large font, colors, voices, reading speed, and more.
Optimize comprehension and learning
By allowing students to read in ways that work for them, students spend less time struggling to read text and can instead focus on comprehension and learning.
Build reading independence
Accessible ebooks empower students to read on their own and build stronger literacy skills with less intervention from teachers and parents.
Save teachers and parents time
Since students can read and learn independently, this saves time for both teachers and parents.
Does your child or student struggle to read because of a disability? Make sure they have ebooks that meet their specific needs, like Bookshare’s specialized ebooks.
Bookshare® is a FREE, federally funded library of ebooks designed specifically for students with learning differences. Students can access millions of specialized ebooks in audio, audio with highlighted text, large font, and braille. Paired with popular assistive reading tools, reading is easier.
My only criticism of this piece is the use of the term “special needs.” All of us, including those of us with disabilities, have the same needs as those who may not have that same disability. People who learn differently have the same needs as everyone else: if they want to read a book they need to have access to that book in a way that makes the book accessible. They may need specialized equipment. They may require specific features in order to ensure that the book is accessible but their needs themselves are no more different or “special” than everyone else.