This week I'm looking at a site called Bookshare. One thing I've discovered while at school at SU is that there is so much out there that I have never heard of, let alone tried using. Bookshare falls into that category. So, what is Bookshare? Simply put "Bookshare’s® goal is to make the world of print accessible to people with disabilities. With a dynamic leadership team, dedicated Members and capable partners, Bookshare is making this goal a reality."
I will admit that when I first visited Bookshare.org I was overwhelmed at the sheer volume of information on their page, but after a little digging I was able to get at the heart of what Bookshare is and how it works.
I'd say the best part to start is on the About Us Overview page- from here you can see the mission which is "Ensuring that all individuals with print disabilities have equal and timely access to print materials" For me this was such an aha moment. I mean, obviously this is how it should be, but the reality of the situation is that it's just not how it is. I immediately thought back to when I was a Special Ed aide about 6 years ago and worked with one student who had a print disability- what were his options? Well, I read aloud to him a lot. Not because he couldn't read, but because he couldn't read the small print in the books. Additionally, because my reading aloud to him might cause a disruption to the other students reading silently around him in class on certain days, this meant we had to leave the classroom and go to the resource room and essentially conduct the assignment there, just the two of us. So not only did his visual disability keep him from reading some of the assigned text, it kept him from participating in the classroom. So, as I explored Bookshare I found myself thinking about how his school experience, his learning experience, could have been more effective with a program like this. The easy answer was that it would have been such a help for him. Any time we can get more resources in the hands of students, disability or no disability, it's a good thing.
More telling then the about us or how it works pages were the testimonial videos. Here is one that I thought really captured what Bookshare can do for students- not only in providing access to the books, but in increasing comprehension and making reading less stressful and more enjoyable for the students.
At this point I've never used Bookshare, so I can't really speak to ease of use or even the collection of books available, but I can say that this will be a resource that I will keep in my back pocket for when the need arises.
What do you guys think about Bookshare? Have any of you used it with a student?