The Time of Year for Celebration
Greetings from the Bookshare Team
The Bookshare Team.
From fall to winter, one year to the next, one holiday to another, and even within the Bookshare website and team, changes are always happening. 2011 saw many changes – all good news for our members! 2012 will bring more. This year-end Bulletin reviews and previews what’s happening in the website, a new award, reading coming alive, staff changes and more.
New features in the Bookshare website
Bookshare is excited to announce some new features coming in early 2012. Our team has worked hard on new tools and options to make using Bookshare even better. Here is a preview! We will tell you more about these changes before they go live.
- Audio Book Formats – Bookshare members will soon be able to listen to books on MP3 players or any device that can play MP3; DAISY audio playable on MP3 players and other technologies will follow soon thereafter. In addition, we will provide a file manager that will make downloading, organizing, and transferring your books easy.
- My Downloads – The My Downloads section will make it easier to find or search the books you have downloaded in the past, check the status of books that are still in the process of being prepared, and easily re-download books if you need them.
- Simplified Download Process – You will be able to set global download preferences for book formats. This will make it faster and easier for members or teachers to download books on behalf of students in their preferred format every time. You will also still be able to easily select the format type each time you find a book.
- New functionality that will make the administrative functions much easier for larger accounts, including the ability to filter by school and district and generate the list of the books they have downloaded that includes the student for whom each book was downloaded and the date on which each book was downloaded.
Reading Is Coming Alive for Students
A few months ago, we encouraged everyone to “Let Reading Come Alive and Download 5!” Did you try it and notice any change in your students? Over the fall, we received many emails from teachers telling us that, yes, reading is coming alive! Students are coming into classrooms saying they want to read. Teachers are reporting better reading scores and students reading at home. One student asked his teacher to download books for him. Another poured through one series and moved on to another. Yet another read every minute she could.
Students are becoming readers, a statement worth much celebration! One student at a time, change is happening. Reading does come alive, thanks to all of you.
Seeking Early Bookshare Members
2012 marks Bookshare’s 10th year of providing services to people with print disabilities, and we are planning lots to celebrate! Are you an early Bookshare Member with a good story or perhaps a humorous anecdote about the early days? If so, please let us know through Contact Us. In the field “My question is about,” select “Special Promotions.” We will contact you with ideas about how you can participate.
New Award for Implementation and Usage
More than ever, implementation in districts, helping teachers and schools use Bookshare, is at the forefront of 2012 plans. This fall, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) honored Benetech with another funding award, that we are calling LIT for Leveraging Impact Through Technology. This one-year award helps us to focus on more support for states, school districts and organizations who want to serve more students with qualified print disabilities. The key components of LIT are more content, more resources that will help more schools implement Bookshare, and more tools that will make it easier for all users to read books.
For implementation, LIT includes free trainings in districts around the country. If you have at least 15 teachers available for a full-day lab training, your district could be eligible for a free Bookshare professional development workshop. To sign up, please submit an inquiry right away. We are booking workshops every week.
With the new tools, all Members will find easier ways to read, using a cloud-based bookshelf, a cloud-based book reader, and a reader app for the Android platform.
Full details are in our announcement.
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Staff Picks for Holiday Reading
Good holiday stories are lifetime treasures, and make enjoyable holiday pastimes. Imagine, instead of eating too much, you set aside this holiday to read too much! That would be a change! Does your son or daughter have an individual membership so they can read as much as they want? Have you given individual memberships to your students so they can download on their own? Here’s a list of top staff picks for good holiday reading for all ages.
Boy Scout Manuals Now in Bookshare
A new partnership with the Boy Scouts of America means your Scout, a parent, or a Scout Master with print disabilities can get the Handbook, Merit badge books, and other Scout Manuals in accessible formats. You can read about the partnership in this blog.
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Mentor Teachers Update
Already this year, 300 teachers have joined our national network of Bookshare Mentor Teachers. These dedicated teachers are helping others implement accessible instructional materials (AIM) in their classrooms. They participate in a listserv to share ideas. Often, the Mentors have told us about the personal satisfaction they get from helping students read and helping teachers get started with Bookshare. One Mentor has already indicated her willingness to visit other local schools! Besides personal satisfaction, there are some very cool prizes. If you are an educator familiar with Bookshare, and you’d like to help others, please sign up today and join this national movement.
District Administration Magazine Honors Bookshare with Award!
We’re thrilled to be chosen! After conducting a thorough review of hundreds of submissions, the editorial staff of District Administration (DA) magazine selected Bookshare as one of the Top 100 products for school districts. The winners include products for districts of all sizes and technologies for many uses, from information systems to assistive technologies.
In announcing Bookshare as a winner, DA used a testimonial from Randy Pine, IEP teacher, District 27Q (N.Y.). He said “Bookshare has leveled the playing field for students with reading disabilities. All students can now take part in discussions and for the first time for most, feel positive about themselves and their school experience.” Thanks, Randy, and all the Members who submitted testimonials on our behalf.
Creating an Accessible Book Program in Your School
Student Wallace H. demonstrates how to use Bookshare and tells of his hopes to attend college and start a business.
Thinking of taking the first steps to begin your Bookshare accessible book program?
This “First Step” web page will guide you.
A video from the Director of Low Incidence Disabilities in the District of Columbia Public Schools Bookshare describes the vision, first steps and plans for their accessible book program. This video includes student technology demonstrations. Please share it with your special education and curriculum teams.
If you are training others to use Bookshare or just want to find out about the latest updates and benefits of providing digital books, please feel free to use any of the Bookshare training videos, free interactive webinars, guides and materials on our Training page. A fun and useful video titled, “What Am I?” introduces the concept of accessible books.
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Effective Transition Planning
With good planning, moving on from high school to a vocational school, work environment, university or community college can be a positive experience for students and their families.
Bookshare is a resource that easily accompanies a student on their academic journey.
College classes require reading - from literature to research materials. High school students who are skilled with assistive reading technologies find confidence to tackle college reading requirements. If the high school student you know has a Bookshare membership through their school, library or other organization, now is the best time to suggest they create an individual membership. It’s like an unlimited library card. Books can be selected and downloaded independently, during the day or night, in a dorm room, student union or at home.
Students can easily have an individual membership created for them by the organization that serves them, or they can go to www.Bookshare.org and create their own membership by faxing in their proof of disability. (Students under 18 require a parent signature.)
Bookshare’s free online digital library - and two free reading tools - can help students achieve the goals of a successful transition from high school. For example, students will find books on college readiness and the application process, information on scholarships and standardized test prep and more in the Student Resources special collection.
Students going to work or a vocational education program will find information on careers and work by browsing through a Career Resources special collection.
With Bookshare to help them, students with print disabilities who qualify find books they want to read and keep up more easily with their non-disabled peers. Help them sign up for their individual Bookshare membership today!
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Publisher and Partnership News
AEP 2011 Hall of Fame
In early December, I attended the Association of Education Publishers, 2011 Hall of Fame honoring three visionaries and leaders in the education field. Dr. Charlotte Frank from McGraw Hill, Don Johnston from Don Johnston, Incorporated who provided the Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition reading software to us, and Paul McFall from Pearson School. More than two hundreds peers and colleagues recognized these individuals for their outstanding contributions to the K-12 education field and we celebrate their good works!
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A Big Welcome to Kristina Pappas as International Program Manager
Kristina Pappas is the new International Program Manager for Bookshare. Prior to joining the team, Kristina worked at Farmigo, an Internet startup company that creates web-based software for community supported food programs such as CSAs; at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and at Fair Trade USA. She worked for over 10 years in international sales and foreign rights in the publishing industry, at IDG Books, McGraw-Hill, and Chronicle Books. Kristina holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and an MBA in Sustainability from Presidio Graduate School. Kristina provided the following update on the international program.
Bookshare’s international presence continues to grow, with members in over 30 countries. We recently welcomed three new partner organizations who are reaching out to the community with print disabilities in their countries: NLB (Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille) in Norway, Hoerbuecherei des OSBV (Talking Book Library) in Austria, and the Dorina Nowill Foundation in Brazil.
International members now have access to more than 50,000 titles in most countries, including books in Spanish, German, French, Hindi, and Tamil, and a robust collection of textbooks in Afrikaans! A diverse Bookshare team is working on a special project with Qatar’s Mada Assistive Technology Center to add Arabic-language books to the collection; these will be available in early 2012.
Meanwhile, in India, 500 of our chopped-up books have found a new life with Vedavalli Vidyalaya in Ranipet (rural Tamil Nadu). Vedavalli Vidyalaya serves over 20 villages in and around Ranipet and is one of the few schools in a 100-mile radius to deliver high-quality education to students who cannot travel to the nearest city, Chennai. This is their very first library and the children are quite thrilled with the books they inherited (all nicely rebound, thanks to Bookshare’s local book processing partner, Worth Trust).
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Someone familiar to you has joined our communications team. After serving as the Director of Marketing for almost four years, Betsy Burgess decided to step into a part-time role on the PR team for a lifestyle change - a transition towards retirement. We’re glad she’s still with us, working on news, the blog, Bulletin, and many other communications. She’s here; you can still reach her, but you may not see her. More news next time about our new Marketing Director.
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Bookshare on the Move
Visit us at these conferences in early 2012
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
Orlando, FL – 1/26-1/29
Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA)
Chicago, IL – 2/22-2/25
CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference
San Diego, CA – 2/27-3/3
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The Gift of an Individual Bookshare Membership keeps on giving!
Treat your friends or students to their own Bookshare memberships for the holidays. Remember memberships are free for qualified U.S. students.
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Is Bookshare Your ‘Worthy Cause’?
End of year contributions to a worthy cause are tax deductible. As a 501(c)(3) organization, Bookshare can accept contributions in cash, although checks would help you track your donations for tax purposes. You can donate by credit card or stock contribution too. Thank you. For more information, visit our Contribute page.
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Are you a fan of Bookshare on Facebook yet? As a fan, you will get great updates and feedback from Bookshare staff, members and fans. You can also check out the new Read2Go Facebook page too!
Bookshare is also on Twitter. Read all the daily news, and feel free to retweet or send us a tweet!
Wishing you a wonderful and magical holiday season!
The Bookshare Staff
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