Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities, is preparing for the upcoming 2015-16 school year in Texas by introducing three new testimonial videos, one of which is a Spanish-language video to help reach Spanish-speaking and bilingual students.
Bookshare is also working on expanding its 350,000-ebook library, including newly published ebook titles made available to Bookshare members the same day as the commercially available versions of the book.
“We’re eager to help more Texans with print disabilities to discover and utilize Bookshare, and through the Accessible Books for Texas (ABT) program, we’re actively engaged in helping qualified K-12 students find and read books,” said Christine Jones, Senior Education Program Manager for Bookshare’s parent nonprofit, Benetech. “Bookshare is a life-changing resource for people of all ages who have print disabilities, and we want to help qualified students in Texas discover that we’re here and ready to help them read.”
Accessible Books for Texas is a statewide initiative, funded by the Texas Education Agency, through which Texas K-12 educators, parents, and students can get free face-to-face and live online training and support on how to use Bookshare most effectively.
ABT is a model of how state-level funding can complement funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) that allows all qualified U.S. students to enjoy Bookshare for free.
The Spanish-language video launch is modeled on existing English-language videos highlighting Bookshare success stories in Texas. The two most recent English-language videos showcase Texas college students with print disabilities, including a Texas A&M University veterinary sciences major with dyslexia and a University of Texas at San Antonio multidisciplinary studies major with septo-optic dysplasia who subscribe to Bookshare and use the technology to help them read books.
The students in these two videos provide advice and inspiration to younger students with print disabilities. The Spanish-language video features a Texas family who has seen firsthand the benefits of Bookshare for their nine-year-old son. They offer encouragement to other parents whose children may have a qualifying print disability.
Students with print disabilities – a learning disability, visual impairment, and/or physical limitation that affect one’s ability to read printed text – are eligible to subscribe to Bookshare at no cost.
A variety of apps and programs for computers, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices allow Bookshare subscribers to read with the aid of highlighted text synchronized with a synthetic speech generator that “reads” the text out loud.
For more information about Accessible Books for Texas, including links to the current videos highlighting Texas students and information on how educators can contact Outreach Coordinators to bring Bookshare to their schools, visit www.accessiblebooks4tx.org.