Bookshare Part 2: Student Eligibility

A post about Bookshare appeared on the ACTEM listserv earlier this week that led to some confusion about “who is eligible and for what books?” The confusion is more than understandable as student eligibility for copyright exemption is pretty complex. Add to that confusion the new IDEA provision for accessible instructional materials (“NIMAS“), and we have a full-day symposium on how to get students what they need in the format they need…when they need it.

In the interest of keeping this post manageable and not a white paper, I’d like to shed some clarity on the Bookshare eligibility issue and leave NIMAS for another day.

As was indicated on the ACTEM list, not all students with learning disabilities qualify for Bookshare service. The disability needs to specifically impact the ability to read print and must be certified by one of the following: a neurologist, psychiatrist, learning disability specialist, school psychologist, or a clinical psychologist with a background in learning disabilities.

The reasoning for this goes back to Copyright law. It’s much easier for students with visual or physical impairments to qualify for Bookshare. “Learning” or “reading” disabilities must have a physical basis in order for a student to meet the requirements for copyright exemption. This is a much more complicated diagnosis than blindness or motor impairment.

The second misconception that I believe may be circulating is that Bookshare has “free textbooks.” No…and yes. Bookshare has a growing number of textbooks in its repository due to a provision of IDEA ’04, but it will take some time for that collection to become robust. To further complicate these matters, most of those textbooks will only be available for students who have IEPs (i.e., qualify under both Copyright and IDEA).

Like I said, this stuff has no place on a blog!

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