Archive for the ‘AIM’ Tag

Mac DAISY Reader for Bookshare

I saw the Bookshare folks earlier this evening at a conference that I’m attending in DC, and they delivered good news. By the beginning of the school year, Bookshare will announce not one, but two DAISY Reader options for Mac users. The first is a Mac version of the READ:OutLoud Bookshare Edition that has been in development for some time. The second is DAISY Extension for Firefox, which will allow users to read Bookshare DAISY files in their Firefox browsers.

Not many details were shared, but I was assured that an announcement is forthcoming on their Web site. I’ll continue to follow Bookshare on Twitter so that I don’t miss the notice!


Bookshare Update: Every Educator Still Needs to Know

It’s been several months since I posted about Bookshare and some developments have been made. First, recall that Bookshare is a free service for all U.S. students (across the lifespan) with qualifying print disabilities. The collection currently has 45,000 books and periodicals in digital text format, which can be downloaded by a school sponsor (e.g., a special education teacher). Students can also have an individual membership for home use. Bookshare has become the premier repository of copyrighted materials in specialized formats for students with qualifying print disabilities.

The digital text file formats available at Bookshare include TEXT, HTML, BRF, and DAISY. By default, the TEXT files will open in TextEdit on your MLTI device and those in HTML will open in Safari. The BRF files are Braille format and are compatible with Braille readers, such as refreshable Braille displays.

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information SYstem. It is a standard for digital books because it provides structure that TEXT and HTML files cannot. “Tags” provide structure for digital books. Examples include sidebars, subsections, headers, highlighting, boldness, etc. All are structural elements. A word in bold could even be tagged for “go to glossary,” indicating a vocabulary word that is defined in the book’s glossary section. Marking up the text with tags allows for the content to be separated from how it is presented, making the reading experience much more enjoyable for individuals with print disabilities.

Because it is a specialized standard, DAISY files can only be read by a DAISY reader. The good news is that Bookshare provides its members with a choice of free DAISY readers for Bookshare files. The bad news is that neither choice is currently Mac-compatible. Bookshare has anticipated that the maker of the to-be Mac version, Don Johnston Inc, will be rolling it out at anytime. In the meantime, we continue to wait.

And it’s not just Bookshare that we’re waiting for. Currently, we are without a stable DAISY reader for the Mac.

My sincere recommendation at this time is to accommodate a student by making available a Windows-based computer with one of the two freely downloadable DAISY readers from the Bookshare site. One of the two is the Don Johnston Read:OutLoud for Bookshare. I recommend this reader in anticipation of the Mac version of the same product. Please note that only “Read:OutLoud for Bookshare” will read DAISY files downloaded from Bookshare. The standard version of Read:OutLoud, which I know many schools are using, will not.

If you have students enrolled in Bookshare, I’d love to hear from you and to learn how you are providing access to its DAISY files. Alternatively, if you need more information about Bookshare, please contact me.

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!

To know Bookshare

Bookshare logoI appear to be on an extended ebook kick as a result of being heavily implanted in accessible instructional material, or AIM, projects these days. But today’s post could have been written five years ago (well, most of it…you’ll see what I mean).

If you haven’t heard of Bookshare, consider this a fortuitous visit to my blog. Every educator needs to be aware of this unique electronic library, particularly now that it has announced Bookshare for Education (B4E). For years, Bookshare has provided ebooks to individuals who are blind or have other print disabilities. It accomplishes this through a community of people who scan and submit books. Bookshare has quality criteria and monitors the scanned books that they receive. Because of copyright exemption that permits the reproduction of publications into specialized formats for individuals with print disabilities, Bookshare now has 37,000 titles, with over 100 books being added every month, not to mention over 20,000 members. Three thousand school groups have discovered Bookshare as a source of core instructional materials for their students who cannot access traditional print.

Until October 1 of last year, schools could join Bookshare for a modest membership fee. All that changed when Bookshare was awarded funding by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to develop and implement B4E, meaning that memberships for U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students of all ages including K-12, post-secondary and adult education, are now free. Keep in mind that this is “all you can read” access for a full year (and another four as it is a 5-year award).

For folks who are following NIMAS, you may be interested in the fact that Bookshare is also an Accessible Media Producer (AMP).

I encourage you to learn more about Bookshare. It’s FAQ section is a good place to begin.