Transition Tool Kit for Students with Visual Impairments

Transition Tool Kit: Students with Visual Impairments

The Transition Tool Kit is to help teens with visual impairments use Bookshare efficiently and effectively after graduating from high school. On this page, find important skills teens need to master to become prolific Bookshare users, next steps after graduating from high school, college and career resources specifically for teens with visual impairments, and helpful guides and resources for TVIs.

Skills Students Need To Know
Graduating with Bookshare
College and Career Resources
Resources for TVIs

Skills Students Need To Know

Get an Individual Membership

An individual membership is a must if you want to continue to have access to Bookshare after high school. If you are continuing your education (ie. attending college or vocational programs), you are eligible for a free membership while attending school. If you are joining the workforce, continue your Bookshare membership for a small annual fee. For more information about what post-secondary activities and courses qualify for a free Bookshare membership, please visit our OSEP Subscriptions page.

Teachers: If your student demonstrates that they are responsible (and willing to call customer support on their own if they forget their password), we highly recommend that your student get a individual membership when they begin having transition IEP meetings. This will help your student learn how to use Bookshare independently. Students can have a joint individual and organizational membership, so teachers are still able to assign books and reading lists.

Search and Find a Book

In order to effectively use Bookshare after graduation, you will need to be able to search and find books on your own! Try using the Advanced Search feature to find a book you are currently reading in school.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with searching by ISBN – a unique identifier for each book to help find the correct edition. Locating the ISBN can be especially helpful in finding the student edition of your book or textbook. ISBNs are generally 10 or 13 digit numbers on the back of the book or the copyright page. Type this number into the standard search box at the top of the Bookshare site.

If you don’t get the result you need, search OCLC’s WorldCat to find additional ISBNs for that title. For example, we may have the hardbound edition and you have the paperback – it is different ISBNs for the same text.

You can also broaden your search by removing author or title or narrow the search by adding publisher or key words in the synopsis (like the main character’s name in a series). To learn more about searching for books, explore this page to learn how to find books.

Request a Book You Need

Sometimes, Bookshare doesn't have every book you need for school. Bookshare receives books directly from publishers, but they have not always created or sent a digital version of the book you need. However, Bookshare will add any book you need for school. Request your school books as early as possible by filling out the book request form, as it can sometimes take months to add a book into the collection.

Use Multiple File Formats on Bookshare

Things happen! Especially when we are talking about technology. Be prepared to know how to use multiple formats of Bookshare books. While every format may not be accessible to you, use your time in high school to learn how to use at least two formats effectively and independently on a variety of devices. Make sure you can still read your favorite books or your required reading, even if you have a hiccup with your favorite device.

For helpful guides on how to use different file formats on specific devices, visit the Help Center or find resources here.

Create a Reading List

Reading lists are a wonderful tool to help you organize your books. Create reading lists to help organize your assigned reading for each class or to have all of your "fun" books in one place. Your teachers probably already told you a thousand times, but organization in college is extremely important. Reading lists help ensure that you open your textbook in the crowded lecture hall instead accidentally opening that steamy romance novel you'd been reading.

Subscribe to a Special Collection

Bookshare's curated reading lists are known as special collections, found here. Subscribe to special collections to have access to lists that interest you. Many of these collections are updated frequently, so if you are subscribed, your list will automatically update as well.

File a Book Quality Report for Inaccessible Books

At times, you may find a book that isn't totally accessible. Bookshare is committed to improving the quality of books within our collection and you can help us by reporting problems that you encounter. If a book is missing things like chapter navigation, missing pages, or all images, file a book quality report to help us fix these issues.

You will need to be logged in to file a book quality report. On the catalog page of the individual book, find a link labelled "Report book quality issue." Fill in the form, including what format, device and reader you're using. The more specific you can be -- including page numbers and examples -- the more effectively we can troubleshoot the problem.

Graduating with Bookshare

Continue Your Membership

Whether you are going to a new school or joining the workforce, make sure your membership information stays updated.

If you are attending a college, university, or another post-secondary program, be sure to update your new school on your membership. If you are graduating and joining the workforce, keep your Bookshare membership and continue to have unlimited access to books in accessible formats for only $50 per year.

Learn how to update your membership after graduation.

Connect with your Counselor

For students with visual impairments there are tremendous opportunities and resources available at your state agency to serve you. Depending on where you live, this could be the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services, or Commission of the Blind.

If you are heading to college, make sure to connect with your counselor at this agency. Your counselor may be able to help you locate assistive technology devices that you can use in college or provide information on financial assistance options.

Use the Directory at American Printing House for the Blind to help find services in your area.

New AT? No Problem!

A new school sometimes means new assistive technology. This shouldn't stop you from reading or doing your coursework! Bookshare recommends that you familiarize yourself with different file formats so you are prepared, if you have a sudden change in technology. Check out our guides on how to use different formats with different devices.

For college bound students, we recommend that you work closely with your TVI when applying to college. Familiarize yourself with your I.E.P. or 504 plan and know what accommodations you currently use in school. You will not be guaranteed brand name assistive technology in college, but you are entitled to assistive technology that performs the same function. When you apply to college, make sure to meet with the college's Disability Services Office to discuss your assistive technology needs. Below are some helpful questions to guide that conversation:

  • What kind of AT equipment is available to you?

  • Will the Disability Resource Center make the AT arrangements on your behalf?

  • Who should faculty members talk to about utilizing AT in the classroom?

  • Do you need to sign up to use AT equipment? If so, how far in advance?

  • Will you be able to utilize AT devices during exams?

  • Is there AT equipment in the library? What about in classrooms and computer labs?

  • Will the college make texts available in various formats, including electronic, audio, or large print?

  • Is the college’s web platform (including course registration software, library catalogs, class discussion boards, etc.) compatible with screen-reading software?

    Here are some guides for different AT tools often used by Bookshare's college students:

    Getting Started with JAWSWord Icon

    Getting Started with VoiceOverWord Icon

    Getting Started with FS ReaderWord Icon

    Getting Started with Victor Reader Stream 2nd GenerationWord Icon

    Getting Started with the Braillenote TouchWord Icon

    Know Your Rights

    If you are attending college or another post-secondary program, be sure to meet with the Disability Support Services on campus. While it is important to know your rights, make sure to talk with the Disability Support Services office about a student's responsibilities. Some colleges offer a Rights and Responsibilities handbook for students receiving these services.

  • U.S. Department of Education's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
  • College and Career Resources

    Scholarships and Grants for Students with Visual Impairments

  • American Foundation for the Blind Scholarships
  • Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship
  • National Federation of the Blind's Scholarship Program
  • Other College Resources

  • Learning Ally's College Success Program
  • Career Resources

  • CareerConnect®: For Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
  • Perkins School: Job Resources for People Who Are Blind
  • National Industries for the Blind
  • National Federation of the Blind's Career Mentoring
  • Resources for TVIs

    Lesson Plans

    Advanced Search Lesson Plans Word Icon

    Book Request Lesson Plans Word Icon

    Mock Customer Support Call Lesson Plans Word Icon


    Get Individual Memberships for Students video icon   Transcript Icon   PDF Icon   Word Icon

    How to Use Reading Lists Word Icon

    How to Find and Request Booksvideo icon   Transcript Icon   PDF Icon   Word Icon


    Postsecondary Preparation Checklist  PDF Icon  Word Icon