A Fall Update:
New Software for Bookshare
Can the Bookshare you already know and love get any better? The short
answer is yes. We’ve added some exciting new capabilities in the
last few months and have more planned. There’s something for everyone.
Textbook Search Improved
Are you a K-12 educator looking for NIMAC (National Instructional Materials
Access Center) textbooks? You probably remember how hard it was to just
figure out how to find out which textbooks were available.
Now, it’s much easier; you just go to Bookshare. Any Bookshare
member authorized to download NIMAC books can now
use our new “one-step” search
that allows you to simultaneously search through
Bookshare and the NIMAC. If the book is in the NIMAC,
get a “Request Book” button
or guidance on how to get the book — depending on which state
from. One-step search should get textbooks to students
much more quickly: in under a week in some cases
or no more than two weeks.
Many Bookshare Members told us that digital images topped their wish
lists. Well, wish no longer. Digital images are
here. All NIMAC textbooks are available for download as a DAISY (Digital
Accessible Information System) file with — or without — images:
your choice. We’ll also start including image descriptions in
Don Johnston's Read:OutLoud and Dolphin Easy Reader text to speech
software already display the images but do not include
descriptions. If you want to know how the assistive
technology you use will support images, please contact
your vendor. Have faith — assistive technology is
increasingly incorporating digital images.
More Powerful Search
Have you ever wished you could search Bookshare for all references
to a certain topic? Maybe you’ve been baffled about the source
of a famous quotation. This fall, Bookshare is launching full-text search.
When students need to conduct research for a school report, they can
now search all books in our collection simultaneously.
A search for “William Shakespeare,” for instance, will
return all books with William Shakespeare in the
title or in the text of the book — as well as Shakespeare’s
works. Watch for the Bookshare Blog to learn how to use full text search
and for more information. Note that you still will be able to search
by author, title, or ISBN.
Software for Bookshare
Don Johnston has introduced a Macintosh version
of its Read: OutLoud Bookshare edition software.
The program is specifically designed for people
with learning disabilities.
Humanware has upgraded VictorReader Soft Bookshare edition to version
2.6. We’re encouraging everyone who uses this software to download
the latest version.
For more information on software tools, go to www.bookshare.org/readingTools
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If you thought volunteering at Bookshare only meant scanning and proofing
books, you haven’t met our summer volunteers. Of course, our
crew of nearly 30 in-person volunteers did some scanning
and proofing, joining the ranks of some 1,700 virtual
volunteers. But this summer, those visiting our cozy
Palo Alto, California offices, also helped us market,
develop our business and engineer our services. You
name it — they
Volunteers have now scanned and proofed more than 23,500 books.
Here are three snapshot profiles of individuals who lent us their
time and skills over the summer.
Satej Soman will be a high school senior this fall. His previous
experience proofreading scanned books for the National Institute for
the Blind in Mumbai, India, led him to Bookshare. He pretty much hit
the ground running, assisting us with processing books submitted by
our outsourcers and helping with inventory checks.
When Satej is not volunteering, he is listening to music, biking or
reading. He plans to volunteer with us again next summer.
Vonn Xavier, a Stanford University communications
student, spent her summer helping us process vendor
submissions and working on a draft of a manual for
vendors assisting with Bookshare’s collection development.
When Vonn is not volunteering with Bookshare she’s finishing
up her senior year at Stanford. Her impetus for volunteering? “I
believe in Benetech’s mission to serve humanity with technology,” she
I love books.”
Kartik Gopal just graduated with a master’s degree
in management from Stanford and is currently involved
in a start-up venture of his own that seeks to put
technology to meaningful use for people with visual
disabilities. Kartik is working with Bookshare on a launch plan for
Route 66 — an exciting Internet-based initiative that will provide
reading and writing instruction to adolescent and adult beginning readers
with developmental delays. With his 13 years of semiconductor engineering
and management experience across India, Germany, Singapore - as well
as his skills as an amateur bike racer, a marathoner and a mountaineer — Kartik
brings a unique blend of skills with him.
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Professional Development Workshops
Educators: you told us in our recent survey that you want professional
development to help you understand how to use Bookshare and assistive
technology. When asked about your plans for spending stimulus funds,
you told us that you want to know how to improve education for students
with print disabilities. You also told us you’d be interested
in professional development from a non-profit such as Bookshare.
In response, we are developing professional workshops that qualify
to be funded under the stimulus bill, the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Here is information
about our first two workshops.
Aligning Assistive Reading Tools to Student Needs
This course is designed
to review a broad range of assistive technology
software and devices available for students with print disabilities.
The goal is to identify the appropriate technology to meet the unique
needs of each student.
Through an interactive curriculum, course participants will learn how to use
software and devices from a variety of vendors. They will then be able to use
their knowledge to make educated decisions about matching the right devices
and software to individual students. In addition, every participant
will leave with action plans they can take back to the classroom to ensure
lasting results after the workshop is over.
Bookshare in Depth
In this workshop, participants will learn how to use Bookshare with
This course is designed to cover all levels of use. Through labs and
exercises, participants will learn how to create and manage class rosters
as well as how to search, request, and download books. In addition,
every participant will leave with lesson plans they can take back to
the classroom to ensure lasting results after the workshop is over.
Bookshare’s support extends beyond the workshop. We include online
follow-up coaching after each course. Coaching will focus on each participant’s
progress and his or her implementation of action plans.
Watch www.bookshare.org for more information. Remember these workshops
qualify for ARRA funds.
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University Partnerships Growing
When a student at Michigan State University needs a book transformed
from pulp into a flexible electronic format, the
staff at the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities jumps into
They search the Internet — including Bookshare — to see
if the book already exists or if they need to process it themselves,
says Tom Hwang, specialist with the Resource Center.
Normally turning a book into an accessible electronic form involves
cutting the spine off a book, scanning it and then
making sure that the scan is correct. That’s something
that can only be done by humans. The process can
take an hour for a super clean, very simple book.
Complex books, on the other hand, take much longer. A scientific textbook
can take up to 200 hours to produce with descriptions of all of the
tables, charts and graphs.
So it’s a big time saver when Bookshare already has a book in
Bookshare is “a treasure,” Hwang says. “I feel it’s
quite a blessing for students to have the Bookshare
Until recently, the process of sharing went one way. University students
with qualifying disabilities have always had access
to Bookshare’s 57,000-plus book collection. Now,
books are flowing two ways, thanks to Bookshare’s growing university
When a university partners with Bookshare, it shares its accessible
materials with Bookshare, as appropriate under the terms of U.S. copyright
law. The partnership helps other universities. If one university scans
and contributes a book, other universities don’t have to duplicate
the effort. However, the real beneficiaries of the university partnerships
are the students who have access to a much larger collection of books
that they can use in their classes.
Currently, Bookshare has 14 university partners with more universities
expressing interest in the program all the time. These partners are
Alliant University, Indiana University, Arizona State University, Hadley
School for the Blind, De Anza Community College, Michigan State University,
George Mason University, Landmark College, Monterey Peninsula Community
College, Texas A&M, University of California, Berkeley , University
of Idaho, the University of Montana and Ohio State University, which
boasts the largest population of students with disabilities.
Sarah Terry, auxiliary services administrator for the Office for Disability
Services at Ohio State University, says Bookshare and programs like
it represent the future.
“I have no reason to believe that Bookshare will not become
an extremely viable component to students having
accessible materials, whether they are textbooks
or supplemental course materials in the future,” Terry says. “They
won’t be the only player in the field but they’ll
probably be one of the biggest ones supporting students.”
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International Program Expands
Before Bookshare came to India, Balasubramanian Kannan would painstakingly
chop and scan his own books — 20 pages at a time.
“It took 15 to 20 days to complete a book,” says Kannan,
a stenographer from Chennai, India.
In October 2008, not quite a year ago, Bookshare came to India and
now Kannan. Who is blind, can often find the books
he is seeking already transformed in to an accessible formats. He is
full of gratitude — especially because Bookshare is giving him access
to computer programming books, which he needs to make a career change.
“We appreciate your efforts to bring popular books,” says
Kannan. He adds a humble request: He wants “more and more books
in the Indian section.”
In fact, this is exactly what Bookshare is trying to do. Not only
is Bookshare now in India, but it is making inroads
to other countries as well, including Kenya and Nigeria.
Unfortunately, bringing books to countries outside
of the United States can sometimes be a complicated
In the United States, an exemption in the copyright law allows authorized
entities to reproduce or distribute electronic copies of published
books for use by people with qualifying disabilities such as blindness.
There is no such law in India. In fact, in India, you cannot just take
a book, chop it and scan it and put it online. Instead, you have to
talk to every single publisher and author to get permission. The process
is slow, but working.
Bookshare is growing every day. We now work with many big publishing
houses and an equal number of small publishers. About 70% of our current
Members in India are visually impaired and the remainder have physical
and learning disabilities.
In addition, Bookshare recently partnered with the DAISY Forum of
India to reach out to even more Members. Anyone who has a membership
in Bookshare’s India program also automatically becomes a member
of The DAISY Forum of India. Member organizations of the DAISY Forum
of India produce and maintain libraries of digital talking books, Braille
books or ebooks. Bookshare Members will automatically have access to
We’ve had some major wins. Recently, one of the biggest publishers
of Indian literature, Sahitya Akademy, gave us permission to reproduce
all of their books. In addition, we have books from Oxford University
Press, Orient Blackswan, Seasons Publishing, Westland Publishing, Sheth
Publications, Zubaan books, Leadstart Publishing, Book Box and Pratham.
We have more than 300 books published in India that have been added
to our global collections.
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Readers Voice Contest Extended
Calling all Kindergarten through grade 12 readers! The Bookshare Reader’s
Voice Contest has been extended. You now have until
Halloween, Saturday, October 31, to enter.
Don’t be afraid. This is not a Halloween trick — and you
could get a huge treat. The prizes are a choice of
the Victor Reader Stream or a ClassMate Reader, both portable, digital
audio book player, from HumanWare. You just have to be a Bookshare
member in elementary through high school.
To participate, download books and write short reviews (about 100
words), telling us why you liked (or didn’t like) the book, discussing
your favorite character and letting us know if you’d recommend
the book. We know you’ve been doing some summer reading. So now
is your chance to have it pay off.
Winners will include those who read the most books and write the most
All Bookshare Members, from kindergartners to high school seniors,
are eligible. Please help us spread the word. If
you have not registered, sign up! If you know a U.S.
student in grades K-12 who is a Bookshare member
and loves to read, let them know about the Reader’s Voice
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- Bookshare Reading Series: How to read on Macs with Read:OutLoud
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 12:00 PM PT
- Bookshare and the University Student - What's New for Fall?
Thursday, October 8, 2009 - 1:00 PM PT
To see archived Webinars, go to: www.bookshare.org/_/help/training/upcomingWebinars#Pre-recorded_Webinars
Conferences and Events
- October 7-9, 2009
Bismarck, ND - Title I/Special Education Fall Conference
- October 15-17, 2009
Bloomington, MN - Closing the Gap
- Oct 17-20, 2009
Salt Lake, UT - The National Association of State
Directors of Special Education
- Oct 18-20, 2009
Alberta, Canada - Canadian Vision Teachers’ Conference
- Oct 18-21, 2009
San Diego, CA - California Association for Postsecondary
Education and Disability
- Oct 23-24, 2009
Niagara Falls, NY - 2009 New York State. Council
for Exceptional Children annual convention
- Oct 28-31, 2009
Schaumburg, IL - Assistive Technology Industry Association,
- Oct 28 - Nov. 1, 2009
Portland, OR - Council of Great City Schools annual
- Oct 30-31, 2009
Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania Learning Disabilities
Association of America
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