The Bookshare Bulletin: News and events for the Bookshare Community
Issue 3 :: Summer 2009

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Educator’s Corner

K-12 ARRA Survey Generates New Ideas – (American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT)

School districts have many ideas for stimulus funds, but here’s one that’s well worth considering – services from Bookshare. Bookshare is free for U.S. schools and students, that’s true; however, there are many other worthwhile services Bookshare could provide that we just can’t deliver for free, but that would qualify for IDEA Part B stimulus funds. (Individual with Disabilities Education Act)

To find out what school districts want from Bookshare, and to help us decide about new offerings that would support long-lasting improvements in special education, we conducted a survey in May and June. Special Education Directors, Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents of Schools participated.

The survey asked about use of funds, plans to obligate funds, and topics for professional development in special education, among other new offerings appropriate to Bookshare.

Bookshare’s role in special education is unique. It offers a broad nonprofit perspective and works with many vendors to ensure users have tools and training to take advantage of the Bookshare library. From this perspective, Bookshare will be offering a mixture of assistive technology products, professional development and other requested services. Profit is not the motive; rather our goal is to provide better training for teachers and better access to assistive technology which leads to improved outcomes for students with print disabilities.

Watch the Bookshare website in July for more details on new offerings from Bookshare in conjunction with other partners that support the goals of stimulus funds. In the meantime, would you like the results of the survey?

Visit Contact Us and select ARRA (stimulus) Program from the menu list in the field labeled: “My question is about.”

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Bookshare Named Authorized NIMAC User in U.S. States and Territories

To expedite the process of providing accessible versions of textbooks to students with print disabilities, your state can name Bookshare as an Authorized User or AU of the NIMAC. Here is the current list of states that have named Bookshare as an Authorized User: CA, CO, ID, IA, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NH, NY, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, VT, WA, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Is your state on the list?

What is the NIMAC? NIMAC stands for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center. It is a federally-funded, central repository created by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to hold U.S. K-12 digital textbook source files. U.S. textbook publishers are required to submit files to the NIMAC when the request is made in writing at the point of print book purchase. The files can then be used to create a variety of specialized formats for students with print disabilities.

This process helps to make certain that all K-12 students with print disabilities receive timely access to required educational textbooks according to the IDEA 2004 Law. (Individual with Disabilities Education Act)

As an AU of the NIMAC, Bookshare supplements the work of other state AU’s and can provide timely access to digital accessible textbooks for students with qualified print disabilities and IEPs (Individual Education Plan). A teacher or sponsor can request and receive converted student-ready textbooks in accessible file formats from Bookshare in less than two weeks.

In states that have not named Bookshare as a state AU, teachers request textbooks through one of their state AU’s, who may still assign the book to Bookshare for conversion. This turnaround process will take longer, from one to two months depending on the complexity of the book.

“When we find a required digitized book in the NIMAC, we make a special notation to request it from Bookshare. Within a week, the books come back in a more reader-friendly format. This is one of the real benefits of working with Bookshare,” said Valerie Whitney, Special School District (SSD) Area Coordinator for St. Louis County, MO and the Missouri Assistive Technology Project.

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Is Your School Leading the Way in Providing Books in Accessible Formats?

The George Lucas Foundation, founded by the legendary filmmaker and publisher of Edutopia magazine, is interested in creating a video about U.S. schools that are leading the way in providing books in accessible formats and using assistive technologies. We are collecting the names of leading K-12 schools.

Tell us what your school is doing with accessible books and you could be part of this historic video. Visit our website and complete our Contact Us form to let us know who you are and give a brief description in the comments box about your K-12 school’s initiative to access digital books using Bookshare. We will contact you in the fall to discuss the plans for this media outreach.

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Educational Conferences - Visit Bookshare Staff

  • National Federation of the Blind (NFB), July 3-8 — Detroit MI
  • American Council of the Blind (ACB), July 4-11 — Orlando FL
  • LA Assistive Technology (LATI), July 15-17 — Baton Rouge LA
  • 2009 AHEAD, July 20-25 — Louisville, KY
  • PA Transition Conference, July 23 — Penn State PA
  • Kansas AT Conference, July 30-31 — Kansas

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Family Time

Transitioning from High School to College

If you are a Member of Bookshare through an organization, (such as your high school, a local library or the Department of Rehabilitation), then the summer months are the best time to sign up for an individual membership. That way you can take Bookshare to your next school with you, and access your digital books anytime. Thanks to the OSEP (U.S. Office of Special Education Programs) award, an individual membership is free to college students. Just like an unlimited library card, you can select and download books independently using your individual password on the Bookshare website.

Students under 18 will still need a parent or guardian’s signature, but it’s easy to sign up. Ask your high school or organization to help you with the paperwork or check it out on your own at the Bookshare website:

Next Steps – Higher Education Textbooks and Reading Materials

It’s important now to check in with the Disability Student Services office at your new college during orientation or before school starts to be sure that your reading accommodations are in place at the beginning of your classes. Students often choose to have both a college Bookshare membership, as well as an individual membership so they can access digital books anytime and anywhere for their studies and for their reading pleasure. Ask about Bookshare membership and how it might benefit other university students with print disabilities.

Taking a Break from School? –6 Weeks to Re-register Your Membership

If you are taking a break from school, please note that you have 6 weeks to re-register as a non-student Member.

Contact Bookshare’s membership department to re-register. Qualified non-students pay $75 the first year; ($25 one-time set up fee and $50 membership fee.) $50 is the yearly membership fee.

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Make Your Child’s Summer Months Fun and Interesting

School’s out and kids are gearing up for plenty of summer fun. Make sure that your child’s summer fun includes reading and enjoying the simple pleasures of a good book. During the school year, students are often too busy keeping up with their class assignments to read merely for pleasure. Students tell us about the books they love to read like Harry Potter, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Aesop for Children and the Twilight series about teen vampires. One teacher wrote that her students read Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli; a story about a boy from the east side of town whose life experiences touched the hearts of many of her students. Perhaps you’ll look for this book in the Bookshare library for your teen.

Summer is the perfect opportunity to match your child’s interests and hobbies and strengthen reading comprehension and fluency skills. The Bookshare library offers over 50,000 digital books, including newspapers, children’s literature, fiction, non-fiction and best sellers. Start now! Talk with your child and do a summer reading book search.

Can’t Find the Book You Want? Request It

Volunteers, partners, and the Bookshare staff work diligently to get the books that our Members want to read. If you didn’t find the title you searched for, ask for it.

Remember that your child will need an individual Bookshare membership to download books at home. If your child only has a membership through school, please register your child now for an individual membership for anywhere, anytime reading all year round.

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Summer Reading Fun - Pique Your Child’s Reading Interests

Jack Plank Tells Tales, by Natalie Babbitt (Ages 6-9)
After spending years at sea, Jack comes to town to find a new career. Is there any job that is right for an ex-pirate who is no good at plundering, but loves to tell stories?

Fly High, Fly Guy!, by Tedd Arnold (Ages 6-9)
When Buzz and his family go on vacation, they don't want to take Buzz's pet, Fly Guy, with them, but he joins them nonetheless. Though small, the fly proves his mettle and saves the day with his flying skills.

Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal, by Jeff Kinney (Ages 10-12)
Greg and his best friend, Rowley, adjust to middle school, where they are undersized weaklings. When Rowley grows more popular, Greg kicks off a chain of events that tests their friendship.

Seekers: The Quest Begins, by Erin Hunter (Ages 10-12)
Three young bears of different species--one black, one polar, and one grizzly--travel on a perilous quest to the Northern Lights, escorting a shape-shifting grizzly cub whose destiny will affect them all.

Max (Maximum Ride #5), by James Patterson (Ages: 10-12)
Maximum Ride and the other members of the Flock have barely recovered from their last arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (Ages 12 and up)
17-year-old Bella meets an exquisitely handsome boy at her new high school, and realizes that he is not wholly human.

Evermore, by Alyson Noel (Ages 12 and up)
Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's life story by touch.

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Parent and Organization Conferences: Visit Bookshare Staff

  • Region 1 Parent TA (Technical Assistance) Center Conference, June 15-17 — Providence, RI
  • Family Connect (NAPVI), July 17-19, Costa Mesa, CA
  • TA Alliance, July 22-24 — Milwaukee, WI
  • EKOM at Ross School, September 15 — Ross, CA
  • LDA of Kentucky 2009 Summer Conference, June 10 — Shepherdsville, KY
  • Region 5 Alliance for TA Parent Conference, June 25-27 — Denver, CO
  • National Federation of the Blind National Convention, July 3-8 — Detroit, MI
  • American Council of the Blind 2009 Convention, July 3-11 — Orlando, FL
  • NAPVI's Families Connecting with Families 2009 International Conference, July 17-19 — Costa Mesa, CA
  • Region 4 Parent TA Center Annual Conference, July 22-24 — Milwaukee, CA

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Bookshare Highlights

National Press Club Event

In April, we gathered in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club to announce our partnerships with U.S. colleges, universities, and publishers.

Read the latest press releases about our partnerships to grow the Bookshare collection with legally scanned books and digital files.

Jim Fruchterman

Jim Fruchterman

In this photo, Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman is standing along the National Press Club hall of fame adorned with photos of legendary media people, politicians, presidents and celebrities. Jim and our distinguished panel spoke to the press, the disability community and government officials about the benefits of our new partnerships.

Jim set the tone of our event when he told the gathering, “Digital media is the future for learners and individuals with print disabilities. Working directly with book publishers and universities, we have an extraordinary opportunity to knock down the barriers and raise the floor of access to ensure that all individuals have access to read print publications at the same time.”

Important Points of Jim’s Speech

  1. Bookshare is growing fast by harnessing the power of people, organizations, schools, authors, volunteers and businesses to lower the barriers for individuals with disabilities to access print materials. Our educational goals are adding 100,000 books and 100,000 Members by 2012. You can help us get there!
  2. Eleven U.S. universities and colleges now provide legally scanned books to Bookshare through our University Partnership Program. We also have more than two dozen publishers contributing digital files to the collection.

Joining Jim on the panel: Jim Marks, President Elect of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and Director of Disability Services at the University of Montana; Eugene Skonicki, a student Member of Bookshare and a recent graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center where he co-founded the Disability Law Society; and Allan R. Adler, V.P. for Legal and Governmental Affairs at the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Panelist, Jim Marks

Panelist, Jim Marks

Jim Marks spoke about the university partnership. His message focused on cost savings and efficient use of federal dollars and resources. Jim validated our Bookshare mantra, ‘scan once, share many’ and talked about the compounding effect of our partners’ contributions to increase the quantity of books in the library.

“In addition to building a substantial collection of accessible books, this program can ease the burden and the financial cost for university scanning operation. We can serve thousands of students while saving our institutions time, resources and tens of thousands of dollars in scanning costs,” said Marks.

Eugene Skonicki talked about his individual membership and how he uses the library for his graduate studies.

Allan Adler’s presentation pointed to concerns from the print publishers’ perspective and the situation publishers face as digital content expands.

All of our guests were excited about our new partnerships with colleges, universities and publishers. Read a featured story in e-Campus News.

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New Member Stories

Ashley Seymour

Ashley Seymour

Megan Krapfl

Megan Krapfl

Special thanks to Ashley Seymour (photo right, above), a college junior at University of Michigan-Flint and Megan Krapfl (photo right, below) a 10th grader at Williamsburg Junior/Senior High School, in Iowa for sharing their great stories with us.

These student Members worked with us to prepare articles for local and national news and magazines about their use of Bookshare. Read their stories.

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Tell Us Your Bookshare Story – 2009 Member Contest

Sofia Gallo

Sofia Gallo

Twenty-two Bookshare Members sent us wonderful stories about how their lives have transformed since they began reading books in digital formats. We enjoyed hearing from you and reading your stories about how Bookshare has made your reading experience more memorable.

Selecting our finalists was tough, but we now have a grand prize winner through our Member voting process. She is Sofia Gallo, who wrote a story entitled, “Twilight at 2 a.m.” Sofia selected a Victor Reader Stream by HumanWare as her grand prize. Check out Sofia’s story and all the stories written by our contest finalists.

Thanks again for telling us your story!

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International Update

Bookshare India

Bookshare just launched its international program in India to support some of the more than 10 million people with print disabilities. While computers and the Internet are widely available, less than 5% of the books are in accessible formats. Braille is expensive and students with print disabilities often walk several kilometers, braving the scorching summer heat or monsoons, to reach a school where books will be read to them by sighted volunteers. Our mission is to help students worldwide have a better quality of life by providing them with easy access to educational and informative books in accessible formats.

In the absence of disability laws that allow for books to be produced in alternative formats for individuals with print disabilities in India and other countries, Bookshare approaches publishers directly to obtain permission to offer their books online in the Bookshare library. We are pleased that we now have global permissions from several publishers in India, including Orient BlackSwan, Seasons Publishing, Oxford University Press and East West Publications. We have also partnered with the DAISY Forum of India to obtain content for our website. DAISY stands for the Digital Accessible Information System.

In order to extend services to our India Members, Bookshare has partnered with three NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in different parts of India. These include Saksham Charitable Trust in the North and the East, Xavier’s Resource Center for the visually challenged in the West, and Worth Trust in the South.

Bookshare is also working in the UK, Canada, and South Africa. We will continue to bring you more news about our International focus in the coming months.

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Volunteer Circle – NEW! Bound for Books e-Newsletter and Blog

As always, we remain grateful for the support and unwavering dedication of the Bookshare volunteers. We are excited about the launch of our new e-newsletter, Bound for Books.

Please send us an email to receive this newsletter. Bound for Books will bring our volunteers the latest scanning and proofreading guidelines and policy changes, while offering a view into the efforts and spirit behind the people who make it all come together.  The spring issue now features an interview with Bookshare volunteer, Monica Willyard.

We’ve also launched the Bound by Books blog. Read it now!

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Book Quality – Reprocessing and Fixing Errors

Have you noticed problems with books in READ:OutLoud or Victor Reader Soft? In some cases, the problem is not with the software, but with the book. We have a major initiative underway, including reprocessing the entire collection, to bring the quality of all books up to the highest standard. Reprocessing will fix some issues, but we need your help.

In late 2008, we implemented a new feature on our website for Bookshare users to provide direct feedback about the quality of the books they download. When you select a book title and go to the book’s information page, you’ll find a box in the upper right corner called Quality Issues to report a book issue you encountered while reading. Please report any errors you find. You’ll hear back from us quickly as to when the errors will be corrected.

Here’s how to report a book issue:

Select “Report book quality issue” in the right hand corner of each book page. A form will auto-generate with the basic information about the book (title, author, etc.). Fields will also appear to enter comments and contact information, which is kept anonymous. Please note specific examples or pages that you are reporting about. This information is helpful for us to assess book issues properly.

Within 24 hours, a report is logged on our system and you can check the status of your issue by going to or by selecting “See all reported book quality issues” on the book’s download page.

Educational books with quality issues are fixed within one month. Books of non-educational content are fixed within 2 months. Once a book quality issue is resolved, we will contact you if you have opted to receive notification. Thanks for helping us constantly improve the quality of our books.

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Bookshare Stats

  • We passed a major milestone this past month: 50,000 books
  • 1592 volunteers worldwide contribute their time and talent each week
  • More than 1000 books are added every month thanks to volunteers, authors, publishers, universities, colleges and production partners

Have a terrific summer!

The Bookshare Team

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