Tell Us Your Story: "Bookshare Breaks Down Barriers"

Finalist 1 of 14

One of my favorite activities on a Saturday afternoon, a warm breezy summer day, or a cold winter day is curl up with a good braille book. Even in elementary school, I plowed through books faster than new books could be delivered. My teachers told me that I should consider listening to books on tape because you can just pick them up at the local library, and there is a much broader selection of audio books. But I wanted braille! I didn't like having to be confined to my room listening to a stereo, and I sure wasn't going to wear headphones. I wanted the same reading experience that sighted people enjoy; taking a book outside, and reading as I listened to birds sing, and to be in the same room with my family, reading away a winter afternoon.

Bookshare did not exist when I was in elementary school, and I did not have the technology to utilize bookshare until high school. Even when I did acquire the technology, it was another year before I became a Bookshare member. Could reading a book on a braille notetaker possibly be as enjoyable as turning pages? The day I became a member, I quickly discovered that reading from a braille notetaker did not detract from the joy of reading braille. In fact, I quickly realized that in many ways reading books digitally was even better than traditional books.

My book library, which used to fill two sets of bookshelves, and cover my bedroom floor, could now fit on a compact flash card. If we were going out of town, I only had to bring my braille notetaker, instead of stuffing multiple volumes of a book into my backpack. In school when we read literature as a class, like when we read Othello, I could participate instead of having to hear the book on tape separate from the class. But the most thrilling part of all was the selection! There were so many books that I had heard about from my friends, that I had always wanted to read, but had given up hope of ever being able to read because I couldn't find them in braille. But I found them on Bookshare, and instead of having to wait weeks or even months for them to be delivered, I could download them with a press of a button, fulfilling dreams instantly! I didn't even have to go to the library or spend money at a bookstore like sighted people do. Even though I have been a member for two years now, sometimes I am still fascinated by the fact that for a small annual fee, I can download and read to my heart's content. Thank you, Bookshare for breaking down the reading barriers and enriching my life, by allowing me to access the same opportunities enjoyed by the sighted world.

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