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Category: Bookshare Success Stories

Bookshare Touches Lives All Year Long

The goal of Benetech’s Bookshare initiative is to make reading accessible to everyone. Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library that serves over 400,000 members with print disabilities. In September, Bookshare reached a significant milestone when it delivered the ten millionth book downloaded. That’s an awful lot of accessible ebooks making reading possible for individuals with blindness, low vision, a physical disability, or a learning disability like dyslexia. Another way we are bringing the benefits of Bookshare to a wider audience is through partnerships with public libraries. Libraries in New York, Georgia, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia now offer free Bookshare…

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Share the Bookshare Love with your Aging Family and Friends

By guest author Deanna McCusker, Head of User Experience, Benetech My mom, Carol, and I have always shared a love of reading, often suggesting books to one another that we enjoyed. When I would visit, she would often leave paperbacks on the dresser for me to take home. I didn’t always read them immediately; I’m a busy professional and besides, how interesting could a story about a World War II nurse going back in time to 18th century Scotland be? When I finally picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I realized Outlander was actually a series, and Mom…

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Robert Lewis Shares Passion for Music, Humanity and Bookshare

Special thanks to Robert Lewis, Executive Director of Maryland’s Radio Reading Network, for sharing his story. Listening to Robert Lewis’ voice, you hear a smooth, deep passion for music, humanity, and reading, especially with Bookshare. Mr. Lewis is the Executive Director of Maryland’s Radio Reading Network, a nonprofit hosted by the Maryland School for the Blind, his alma mater. His radio program, Vision Through Voices, provides a human touch of stories that are of interest to everyone, not just the blind community. Daily, more than two thousand listeners tune in to his broadcast to hear news from publications like The…

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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, 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…

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Texas Specialist Finds Successful Reading Strategies to Teach Students with Dyslexia

Finding the right reading solutions for an estimated 2.4 million* American students with a learning disability, like dyslexia, can be difficult. For these students, reading isn’t easy. Brain signals get mixed up, causing an inability to decode and interpret words. Thankfully, many students with learning disabilities are placed in the capable hands of specialists like Leslie Patterson, a Certified Academic Language Therapist and licensed Dyslexia Teacher for Griffis Elementary School in Caddo Mills, Texas. Leslie works with young children, and a critical part of her job is to identify strategies and resources that strengthen their reading comprehension through a multisensory…

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Son’s Dyslexia Diagnosis Prompts Mom’s Search for Answers

Seth Gast has dyslexia and a language disorder. For three years, he has used Bookshare’s online accessible library for schoolwork and to find Boy Scout manuals to obtain his merit badges and become an Eagle Scout. His mom, Dina Gast, credits his academic progress to a renowned dyslexia center, excellent teachers and tutors, and Bookshare. In recognition of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, here is Seth’s story. Early Reading Frustration Entering first grade, Seth was a bright little boy, but his mom noticed his enthusiasm for school and learning diminish. He liked books, but seemed to be frustrated with reading. A…

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Denver Administrators Strengthen Reading For Students with Print Disabilities Through Expansion of Bookshare

Denver Academy’s Philippe Ernewein, Director of Education, and Anthony Slaughter, Director of Information Technology, were eager to hear about the progress of Alyssa Campbell. While Alyssa has had a Bookshare Individual Membership for many years, it wasn’t until she entered middle school at Denver Academy that she began reading more textbooks and literature using accessible ebooks with assistive technologies. Alyssa has a documented learning disability that makes it difficult to read traditional print materials. Text-to-Speech Makes Reading Easier Due to her disability, Alyssa could not keep pace with the rigorous reading assignments for her grade level. Her mom, Debbie Campbell, an educator herself,…

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Parent Partners with School Administrators to Advocate for Accessible Ebooks and Dispel Myths

Deborah Campbell with Denver Academy’s Director of Education, Philippe Ernewein, and Director of IT, Anthony Slaughter When Deborah Campbell volunteered at Denver Academy, she had one mission: to educate teachers and families of children with reading disabilities about the benefits of accessible ebooks and assistive technologies for learning. Mrs. Campbell holds a master of arts degree in curriculum and instruction and has a deep understanding of the education process. Alyssa, her eldest daughter, attends Denver Academy and was diagnosed with a learning disability in second grade. At that time she read at a noticeably slower pace than her peers, and it was difficult…

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Helping Individuals Who Are Blind Transition to Work Through Training and Accessible Ebooks

September 8th is International Literacy Day, and Bookshare is honoring those individuals and organizations that make a lasting difference to ensure literacy happens for everyone. Each day, Bill Powell, Assistive Technology Director, and his staff at Bosma Enterprises in Indianapolis, provide job training, employment services, rehabilitation, and outreach to help adults who are blind transition to the working world. To accomplish this goal, the team downloads digital accessible books using Bookshare. Bill says, “With the right education, mentors, technology, and resources like accessible books, individuals with disabilities are highly capable of working in many fields, including training and technology, after their schooling.”…

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Creating Equal District and Schoolwide Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Raising academic performance to meet the mandates of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a critical mission for school leaders, yet finding solutions to accommodate diverse student populations across districts and schools can be overwhelming and costly. Students with learning disabilities or visual impairments, for example, have difficulty reading print books. Often, they need accommodations like audio, large print, or braille to make classroom and homework materials accessible. The effort and resources required to produce accessible educational materials (AEM) is significant. Teachers and librarians struggle to find textbooks and Common Core materials in accessible formats. Parents stress about support…

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