Bookshare: Making Reading Accessible To Students With Print Disabilities


Click Here to read about Bookshare on The 2011 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products

What Is BookShare And What Can It Do?

Bookshare  is the world’s largest online library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Their goal is to make reading accessible. Individuals have access to a large and diverse variety of texts for both academia and reading for pleasure.

Individuals can:

  • Read eBooks on computers, tablets, phones, assistive technology, MP3 players and more.
  • Listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices, as well as read multimodally. The multimodal feature allows students to see and hear words as they are being read and highlighted.
  • Take notes, add bookmarks, and look up word definitions.
  • Download free reading tools for PCs, Mac, and Android devices.
  • Access to reading material through adaptive technology and Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays.
  • U.S. students and schools can join Bookshare for free through an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Read this article by Paul Schroeder congratulating Bookshare on their 10th anniversary

Who Does Bookshare Serve?

  • People with visual impairments
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with learning disabilities
Click to read the Benchtech President and CEO discuss Bookshare

Click to read the Benchtech President and CEO discuss Bookshare

What Are The Benefits of Bookshare’s Digital and Accessible Books?

Bookshare is in compliance with IDEA 2004 which requires timely access to materials for qualified individuals. It also provides access to most curriculum’s for students with print disabilities. It also helps promote inclusive education and helps create the LRE or Least Restrictive Environment. Bookshare helps reduce the costs associated with special education accommodations as well as use tools that support the Universal Design for Learning. It even eliminates the cost to scan or copy books.

This video depicts a child who has improved his confidence in reading as well as his grades by using Bookshare.

9 thoughts on “Bookshare: Making Reading Accessible To Students With Print Disabilities

  1. I think this is such a great thing to know about. It’s great to see how technology can accommodate anyone, especially the ones who need help in a specific task. It’s very convenient for people to be able to access libraries online and read through your own computer or have someone read it to you. This can be very helpful for others and can be of great use for many people. Everyone should be able to read in some way, shape, or form. If you are one with a disability, it doesn’t mean that you have to be left out in the dust. It is important that every individual has access to reading to best fit their needs. I believe this is a very effective program and neat way of bringing books alive from the computer.

  2. I love this post. I didn’t even know this place existed. I am so glad to see that there is a database out there that expands people’s ability to read and gain information. I will definitely have to keep this as a source for my classroom. I like that you also gave me different options to get other information. I was able to get a good understanding of this site and how it can be helpful to me through your blog and through the sources you provided. Having a video and hearing a student talk about how Bookshare has helped them and how they can use it. This would be a great suggestion to any students I might have who have trouble with reading or even remembering information.

  3. Rachel,
    Last week I read a blog about how reading through audio tapes was not considered learning in certain classrooms, but this online library clearly disagrees. I would have liked to hear a statistic about how many students are considered to have a reading or learning disability, so that we could picture how many students in each classroom would be using these tools. I also think it would be even more effective if all students had access to this resource if they wanted, maybe they don’t have a disability technically but would be more motivated to reach if it was through multi-modality of listening and reading at the same time.

  4. Another awesome post from Ms. Rachel; so in depth! For my post, I covered a few different apps out of 50, but you focused in one single app and showing the reader every aspect about Bookshare. You could be their salesperson! You covered what it was, how it works, who it works for, and why. All the while including effective pictures and a personal video.

    This blog was just in time for me because in my observation site the host teacher decides to use audio recordings when “reading” the book. Although this can cause boredom and fatigue, I noticed that it was actually an effective strategy because of it’s ability to meet all students needs. If some were bad readers, they could listen and follow along. If some of them would rather read, they had the audio to help follow along. The different voices the narrator uses is effective because it brings color and forms an identity of a character; all the same effective strategies that Bookshare can do to.

  5. Rachael,
    Last week I blogged about the disagreement that some individuals have concerning whether, or not, audio books should count in the classroom. Your insightful post about bookshare completely plays into this topic! I think our posts compliment each other quite well. I loved that the youtube video was incorporated displaying the opinion of this young man. Disabled, or not, some students simply struggle with reading, and this is a great way for those who feel left behind, to catch up. These resources that are made available for modern day classrooms should be used if necessary. Thank you for these links; this is definitely a topic I would love to research further.

  6. You are always blogging the most helpful posts! Bookshare seems to be a really helpful program. It’s great that there are different options, and help people with different kinds of disabilities. The video of the boy who benefits from using Bookshare really helps prove your points.

  7. This is a really interesting and helpful program! I love how it has so many options and such a wide variety to accommodate anyone. I definitely agree that this would be a great classroom resource!

  8. I have never heard of this online library before. It sounds like a really interesting and good source for students and could be very beneficial for those that need additional help. I didn’t even realize that something like this existed. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Rachel,
    I enjoyed reading about BookShare and its many benefits for children and adults with disabilities alike. This struggle to provide accessible books to disabled students and ensure that they receive a first-rate education is not always an easy task. Being able to hear and/or see the book being read for you certainly has many benefits. This technology should be made available to every student but although there has been some progress, there is still a profound lack of accessible educational materials, including textbooks, for students in need. With the newly implemented mandates such as No Child Left Behind (2001) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004), educators are required to accommodate disabled students with assistive materials and technologies. Despite these mandates it is not always easy for teachers or school districts to get really helpful material to the children in need. Hopefully BookShare, and programs like it, can begin to bridge this gap.

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