Bookshare has announced that it is launching two new additions to its product line, the Bookshare Web Reader and Bookshelf, as part of its continuing effort to help kids with print disabilities connect with books. The company made the announcement at the 2013 Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference this week. Bookshare Web Reader allows readers to directly open books with a browser without requiring them to download the book or utilize separate software, while Bookshelf allows readers (or their teachers) to organize selections by any system they choose.
For example, teachers can place books—such as K–12 NIMAC textbooks or other assigned reading—on a Bookshelf to be downloaded later by students, or give direct access to students with individual memberships so they can log in and read using the Web Reader. Selections can be organized by interest, author, or subject, or educators can devise their own systems.
“The Bookshelf makes it easy for teachers to download the year’s reading list for multiple students at once, thus saving time,” says Justin Kolbe, assistive technology specialist. “It’s a good way of getting all the reading material organized in one place.”
The Bookshare Web Reader is compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE 9.0 and above. It allows readers to adjust font size, colors and display format, and takes advantage of Google Chrome’s features to allow students to read books multi-modally, with word-by-word highlighting and text-to-speech.
Bookshare is a Benetech literacy solution, funded by awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
Today, more than 73,000 educators—including reading teachers, assistive technologists, and specialists—use the Bookshare library to support students who are blind or who have low vision, a physical disability such as cerebral palsy, or a severe reading disability such as dyslexia.
“These latest improvements to the Bookshare reading experience align with our long range vision to provide individuals with print disabilities equal access to content,” says Betsy Beaumon, vice president and general manager of the literacy program at Benetech. “We expect members will read more because they will access their books more quickly and have just one click to begin reading.”