Many students have difficulty reading printed text and therefore have limited access to learning through books. Bookshare is an organization with the purpose of making text available to students with vision impairments or other print disabilities. They have over 34,000 books and 150 periodicals available that are converted to Braille, large print, or text to speech audio files.
Bookshare works like an online library. The library is completely free for qualified U.S. students and their schools, thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. There is a small charge for individuals no longer in school to join. Bookshare gets books from publishers, universities, the NIMAC, and volunteers who choose to share their favorite books. The Bookshare library has textbooks, books on the New York Times Best Seller list, and all the popular children’s and young adult series including the Harry Potter, the Twilight series, and many more.
Students who are not able to access print, such as those with visual impairments, physical disabilities, or learning disabilities like dyslexia can benefit from accessing books in a variety of formats. They can read the same books as their peers and keep up with classroom discussions, perhaps using a computer or iPad. These technologies read books out loud and highlight the words at the same time, if the student wants the multi-modal combination. Other options include reading a book on a Braille device or in large print. Go to http://www.bookshare.org to explore the possibilities.