As the world’s largest online resource for readers with a print related disability, Bookshare meets the needs of millions of readers who are not able to enjoy a book in the traditional sense. While their main goal remains addressing the access people have to materials that are suited to their specific needs, Bookshare also seeks to remain current in the technological climate of reading.
At last week’s Assistive Technology Industry Association conference, Bookshare unveiled two new levels of reader support that are free to Bookshare members: the Bookshare Web Reader and Bookshelf. The first tool will allow readers to open any book in the catalog within a web-based browser and find specific pages, all without having to download the book. The Bookshelf allows educators or other content providers to assemble material in one specific and easy to use location in a way that can be easily searched and categorized.
“These latest improvements to the Bookshare reading experience align with our long range vision to provide individuals with print disabilities equal access to content,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of the Literacy Program at Benetech, in a press release. “We expect members will read more because they will access their books more quickly and have just one click to begin reading.”
“The Bookshelf makes it easy for teachers to download the year’s reading list for multiple students at once, thus saving time,” said Justin Kolbe, Assistive Technology Specialist. “It’s a good way of getting all the reading material organized in one place.”
While visual impairments might be slightly more recognizable by the general reading public, a print disability actually varies greatly in the needs that readers must address. Learning disabilities, dyslexia, low vision, or physical impairments can result in a hindrance to reading ability and enjoyment; Bookshare seeks to meet the needs of those individuals in order to further enhance their educational standing and their personal reading accessibility.