BookShare, an Online Community of Readers for Students With Disabilities (2009-09-08)
by NaNia Taylor, Examiner
BookShare (http://www.bookshare.org/) is a members-only online club that allows students with a qualifying Individual Education Program (IEP) to obtain a free membership to access hundreds of books, newspapers and magazines. BookShare lets students with print disabilities download books to their computer or handheld device and through the use of software, reads the books aloud to them. There is also the option to have the books downloaded in Braille for students with visual impairments. As a result, students now can have access to books that they would not be able to read independently.
The website catalogs titles from the New York Times Bestsellers List, Newbery Award winners, as well as popular and international titles. You can also download books in Spanish. Having access to this technology is beneficial to parents, teachers, as well as students. Think about the student in your class or your child at home, who loves to watch the Harry Potter or Twilight movies, yet, cannot check out the book at the library because he/she cannot read it. Students want to have availability to books on their grade level, but are unable because the book is higher than their reading level. Using a technological resource such as BookShare in the classroom, allows the teacher another way to modify the curriculum for special education students, and allows students to feel more included with their peers.
The software that BookShare uses is Victor Reader Soft Bookshare Edition (http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/home) by Humanware and also READ:OutLoud Bookshare Edition (http://www.donjohnston.com/products/read_outloud/index.html) by Don Johnston, which are available for download free on the website.