Tell Us Your Story: "Knowledge is Power"

Finalist 9 of 14

For as long as I can remember, reading has been a part of my life. When I was a child I would listen to storybooks on tape, or have people read to me. The stories could transport me into other places, help me build my imagination, and expand my view of the world.

I believe it is critical for print disabled individuals to have access to the written word. The information age has introduced a number of challenges to those with print disabilities. The rate at which books, newspapers and other publications are being produced far outpaces the ability for services that might convert the material into an audio or physical Braille book format to do so in a timely manner. While I still use audio books and read Braille, digital technologies change how I consume the content.

Knowledge is power, and the ability to consume information in a way that suits us as individuals changes the way we understand what we are consuming. I discovered Bookshare, a service that keeps the information digital, giving me the power to consume my information however, where ever and when ever I want. I am not tied to a phone, or to the computer, to a tape player, or even to just listening to my books, I can read them too, in Braille. Bookshare ties it all into one place. Books, newspapers, magazines, and reference materials.

The impact Bookshare has had on my personal life stretches from my home life to how I do my work and beyond. I read books from the fantasy genre for fun. I have enjoyed hours of reading and snacking because of Bookshare. I am currently taking courses at the college level, and even though I have not been able to find books specifically required by my course of study, I have gained much insight into my work from reading articles in the newspapers on Bookshare. I am a computer consultant by trade and having access to the reference materials on Bookshare has changed the way I work. Having the ability to go download material, look for what I need using a search facility and then move on to solving the next problem really helps bring your sense of accomplishment to the forefront. Years ago, I may have had to have the book on tape and wow would that be cumbersome to negotiate 1500 pages of reference materials on 30 sides? Switching back to the home life again, I am always amazed at the cookbooks I can find on Bookshare. I love to cook, and I like the science, the history, and also the stories you can find in cookbooks. Sure if I am just looking for recipes I can go ahead and traverse the thousands of recipe sites for the next great Mac and cheese. This experience is not nearly the same as someone describing why there particular recipe is the best, what memories the recipe brings forward, and no recipe site I have ever found online helps you with technique.

I check in daily with Bookshare to make sure I am aware of when the next treasure is available. I love to read and I love the power that bookshare gives me to read whatever I want when ever I want.

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