Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kudos for Bookshare® Downloadable Audio and Braille Books for Students with Visual Impairments and Dyslexia

Through an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare offers free memberships to U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students.

Bookshare® is an online library of digital books for people with print disabilities. It operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law which allows copyrighted digital books to be made available to people with qualifying disabilities. In addition, many publishers and authors have volunteered to provide Bookshare with access to their works. By requiring individuals to register as Members and provide a Proof of Disability, Bookshare ensures that only qualified individuals use the service.

Bookshare serves:
1. People with Visual Impairments: Members with visual impairments can listen to books with using a text-to-speech synthesized voice, read books in Braille, or access the material in large print. Members with low vision can read books in an enlarged font using either a screen magnifier or by opening the book in a software program that supports increased font size, color, contrast, etc.

2. People with Physical Disabilities: Members can read books on a computer or a variety of portable devices, either visually and with text-to-speech as desired. Bookshare books are as easy or easier to access than books on tape, and the Bookshare program is switch accessible.

3. People with Learning Disabilities: Members with severe dyslexia typically benefit from access to the full text of books in digital format, for multi-modal reading with both visual and audio (through synthetic text to speech). Many great software programs exist that provide a range of reading support specifically designed for individuals with learning disabilities, including highlighting of text as it is read aloud, changing margin, word, paragraph and line spacing, and setting custom background and print colors.

Bookshare books are available in the following accessible digital formats from the Bookshare website:

DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System)-a talking-book file format

DAISY books from Bookshare are DAISY 3 text files that work with screen readers, self-voicing synthetic-voice DAISY players, portable self-voicing DAISY players, and scan-and-read software such as Kurzweil K1000 and K3000, WYNN, and OpenBook.

BRF (Braille Refreshable Format)-digital Braille for use with Braille embossers and refreshable Braille devices.

Bookshare Members download books, textbooks and newspapers in a compressed, encrypted file. They then read the material using assistive technology, typically software that reads the book aloud (text-to-speech), Daisy audio file readers and or devices that display the text of the book on a computer screen, or Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays.

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