Accessibility and Ease of Use

Welcome to the all new Bookshare®, completely rebuilt from the ground up for more accessibility and ease of use. This new version of our online accessible library has many exciting new features that enhance navigation, membership management, and searching and downloading books.


Accessibility Improvements

The new Bookshare library implements many of current best practices for website accessibility. These features include:

  • Heading level navigation. All pages are structured with headings and subheadings to make it easier for people using screen readers to navigate from section to section.
  • Skip-to-main-content link. Each page has a “Skip to Main Content” link for screen readers, allowing people to skip all the navigation links at the top of the page and go straight to the content. Pressing the Tab key takes you straight to the main content, and pressing Enter begins to read the content.
  • Improved navigation. The new library uses drop down menus for the main navigation, eliminating long lists of links. These drop down menus are recognized as headings by screen readers, so you can easily navigate from heading to heading, and through sections of content. With Jaws, pressing the “3” key takes you to each content area, and the down arrow moves you through the subsections in that area. With other screen readers, please use the heading navigation provided.
  • Built-in support for people with low vision. With the new page design, you can zoom in or out on a page and all items on the page scale accordingly, even images. People with low vision can enlarge the font and images to a size that’s comfortable and still maintain the integrity of the page and its contents. (Press CRTL + to zoom in, and CTRL - to zoom out.)
  • Customization of Braille line length. When you download a book in BRF format, you can now vary the number of characters on a line to match the display on your Braille device. Go to My Account, select the Preferences option and set the line length. This setting will remain in place for all books you download until you change it. Customizable line lengths also help with production of embossed Braille.
  • Tables only used for tabular data. Tables are not used for page layout, but only for data that is best understood in columns and rows.


New DAISY Reader Software and Voices

Bookshare now offers two complimentary DAISY readers for Members:

  • Victor Reader Soft Bookshare Edition. This new and improved version is much easier to use and has more functionality than the previous version. It is designed for people who are blind or have low vision. Use this software if you are a screen reader user and want a fuller-featured DAISY reader.
  • READ:OutLoud Bookshare Edition. This DAISY reader is designed specifically for people with learning disabilities. It is not recommended for use with screen readers. This software features high-quality text-to-speech for multi-modal reading, spotlighting, note-taking and other study skill features, an online dictionary, and more.

For Windows XP users who are seeking a better quality synthetic voice, Bookshare offers free Acapela TTS voices for download. The file is 200MB, so please only download this file if you need better voices on your computer (users with Windows Vista, Mac OSX or who have better quality SAPI5 voices already installed don’t need to download this large file).


More Accessible Search

The Bookshare library offers powerful full text search capability that allows you to search for words or phrases in the titles, authors’ names and contents of every book in the library. Even if you don’t know the exact word, you can find what you need quickly and easily.

There are several ways to search for books:

  • Quick search: This streamlined search page is simpler and easy to use (and works well with screen readers):
    • There is no top navigation or header to skip over to reach the content.
    • Search results are displayed in a simple Google-like format that offers quick access to the download links and book information.
    • You can bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you want to find a book quickly.
  • Standard search: Type a word or phrase in the search field at the top of any page. You can display the results as a table or a list and sort by title, author, etc. You can also narrow your search with the “Relevant Authors” field, which displays the authors who appear most often in the results.
  • Advanced search: Use Advanced Search for a full-fledged search page that allows you to search by title, author, ISBN, book type, international availability, book quality and/or language. You can sort and filter the results and display them in a table or list view.

 For more information on searching, visit the Find Books page.


Better Account Management

Now you can much more easily manage all your account information online:

Individual Members

Select the My Account link to view and manage your individual information. New tabs provide an easy way to enter information and take action on your account. When you first log in, please visit the My Account page and check to be sure that your information is correct, or make changes as necessary.

Organizational Members

All links for managing your personal and organization information are in the upper left corner, just under “Home,” where you can find them easily and quickly. Use these links to edit your contact information and the information about your students and Sponsors. When you first log in, please visit your personal and organizational account pages, and check to be sure that the information is correct. You can make changes to it as necessary.

If you were familiar with the term Additional Downloaders, we’re now calling them “Sponsors,” because they are assisting students with getting books.

You can now help your students get Individual memberships with an easy new process. Go to My Organization, select the “Members” option, select a student on your roster and use the “Individual Membership Form” button. You’ll be asked to download a PDF form. This form contains a special code that will allow Bookshare to approve disability based on the student’s organizational membership details. Have the student or parent fill out the remaining fields on the form and return it to Bookshare by mail or fax.

Downloadable Forms

The Forms page in the Help section contains links to all the Bookshare forms and agreements, in case you need to download a new form for someone. Our agreements have been rewritten in simplified language, but are intended to have very much the same provisions. Be sure to read the applicable agreements to confirm you are still comfortable with these obligations.


Unzip Instead of Unpack

Bookshare has upgraded its compression/encryption technology to use standard Zip compression. This simplifies the process of downloading books. New users no longer have to download and install the Unpack Tool.

Unzip works much like Unpack. To read Bookshare books, you will first need to “unzip” the files. Windows XP and Vista users can unzip the files directly (for Windows 98 PCs and Macs, see below):

  1. Select the “.zip” book file.
  2. Choose Extract All from the File menu.
  3. Choose a location for saving the files and enter your password.

The zip compression creates just one file per book, which means Bookshare books are much easier to manage and take up less disk space on your computer. Bookshare will soon be adding images to select books and the zip format will also make it much easier to manage books with lots of images.

You will no longer need the old Unpack Tool, unless you have books you have downloaded but haven’t unpacked. If you do have packed books, you can either unpack them with the Unpack Tool, or download the books again from Bookshare:

  1. Go to My Account
  2. Select the My Books option, which lists all the books you have downloaded.
  3. Select the book you want and select Download.

If you have any concerns, please contact Bookshare Support.

Windows 98 PCs and Macs

Windows XP and above has Zip capability built into the operating system. If your PC operating system is older or if you have a Mac, you may need to download a zip program. Bookshare recommends the following:

Mac users can also use Stuffit, which is not free, but works quite well.

If you have any concerns, please contact Bookshare Support.

Upgrading Your Access Technology

Please contact your access technology vendor for an upgrade to your device or software application so that you can unzip books.




Victor Reader Stream



Open Book

Freedom Scientific




1-800-315-2305 #1




Kurzweil 1000



Kurzweil 3000




Book History

Now you can view all the books you have downloaded from Bookshare. Just log in, go to My Account and choose the My Books option. You can sort the list by any column — author, title, etc. Your book history will help you remember which books you’ve read, as well as make it easy to find books you’ve downloaded in the past in case you want to download them again from a different location or with the new zip format.