Mrs. Shell mentioned an organization called Bookshare that provides text in alternate formats. What do you think alternate formats are? What further information would you want about this service?
Page 7: Downloading and Reading Books and Materials
Many people are familiar with the experience of going to the local library and checking out a book. In the case of Bookshare, Members go online and download digital books and materials. The books and materials offered by Bookshare are available in one of two digital file formats:
Navigate text (e.g., jump from page to page, bookmark a page)
Braille Ready Format (BRF)
A digital text file that can be converted to braille.
Once a Member has found the desired book online, he or she will download it in whatever format best suits his or her individual needs. Individuals or organizational sponsors can download books on behalf of members. Click on the videos below to learn how to download a book.
Further, Bookshare offers its Members free text-reader software programs that allow them to access, navigate, and manipulate DAISY digital files. The table below explains both the DAISY and the BRF file formats, some of the free or inexpensive software provided by Bookshare, and some of the hardware that can be used to navigate each file type.
DAISY–a digital file that allows the student to:
Access text (e.g., seeing, hearing)
Manipulate text (e.g., highlight, enlarge font)
Navigate text (e.g., jump from page to page, bookmark a page)
DAISY audio–a digital file similar to the DAISY above; however, this format uses mp3 files created with a text-to-speech engine (e.g., works with Victor Reader Stream, Read2Go).
MP3–a digital audio file that allows the student to:
Access text (i.e., listen)
BRF––a digital text file that can be converted to braille
This DAISY reader software offers a number of options and tools that allows the Bookshare Member to manipulate the text. Let’s take a look at some of these.
To make the book “speak,” select the audio control on the Read:OutLoud browser’s toolbar. Click the audio control again to turn off the “speak” feature. The “Voices Settings” under the Speech menu will allow you to choose a customized voice and to adjust the rate, pitch, and volume of the reading. You can also use the pull-down menu labeled “eBookStyle” to change the book’s font, font size, color, and background, depending on your reading preference.
Searching through Bookshare books is easy. Use the “Find” feature under the Edit menu to search the text in the book. You can also use the text bar to jump to any page in the book. Simply type in the page number and hit enter.
The green and yellow “highlighter” buttons can be used to highlight key vocabulary terms or passages you’d like to return quickly to later. Notice that highlighted text appears on the “notepad” at the right side of the Bookshare browser. Double-click on those notes to return to the marked passage or word in the text.
In the event you run across an unfamiliar vocabulary word, highlight the word and select “Dictionary” from the Tools bar. You’ll be taken to a Google definition of the word. To return, simply select the title of your work from the click bar just beneath the browser’s toolbar.
Select the “notes” button to write down your own thoughts or notes. Cut and paste dictionary definitions into the notes pop-up window and select the “speak” button to hear your definition read by the browser’s “speak” feature.
Finally, select the “Bibliographer” tool under the Tools bar to see examples of properly formatted citations for “articles,” “artwork,” and “books,” to name but a few.
Bookshare Web Reader
Web reader that lets you read your Bookshare book directly from your Internet browser. Simply find the book you choose to read, and select “Read Now” with an Internet connection from the download format option.
Refreshable braille display
This device uses a strip of rubberized material as a reading surface. A set of pins beneath the rubber plane rise and fall, forming braille characters that correspond to the text on the screen. The user has the option of having the text read aloud as they read in braille or they can choose to read the refreshable braille with the sound turned off. Photo courtesy of Freedom Scientific
I’m Steffon Middleton, and I’m here as a student at the Alabama School for the Blind. Since I’ve had access to Bookshare, I’ve noticed that I’ve actually improved because not only am I listening to the book but I’m actually reading it here on my braille display. (Braille reader: “Successfully executed a series of moves.”) Go to the main menu and (braille reader: “Main menu. Read book in which folder.”) then I push B to activate the book reader. Then from there I go to to what folder the book is in. In this case, it’s My Books. (Braille reader: My Books. Name: “A Christmas Carol”). Okay, I’m going to read “A Christmas Carol” and from there I press enter. There are many ways to do it, but what I like to do is read with my left hand and move around the page with my right hand. So after each line I would press the thumb key to move on and” Scrooge’s name was good upon change for anything he chose to put his hand to.
This portable device can be used to take notes in braille, which are in turn converted to speech, braille, or text. Photo courtesy of Freedom Scientific
These printers render text into braille. Photo courtesy of Enabling Technologies
This is a type of portable device that is used to access DAISY formatted files. Different devices usually offer users different ways to manipulate digital text (e.g., view highlighted text, enlarge fonts, look up words in a dictionary). One example of a DAISY reader is a Classmate Reader. Photo courtesy of HumanWare
Listen as Vikki Vaughan talks about the training provided by the assistive technology team at her school. Next, Carolyn Schwartzbord shares a novel way to teach students how to download books from the Bookshare library.
Vikki Vaughan Vision Specialist Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
The training is provided by the assistive technology team. In our school system, we have two occupational therapists, a speech language pathologist, and a vision specialist that make up the assistive technology team. So we go out and we provide the training in the use of the devices. We often provide training to the special ed teachers. They, in turn, will provide the training for the students. And on occasion we also do provide direct instruction to the students, and I have provided training for parents as well. The playback devices that we use are fairly easy to understand. They come with a good tutorial disk; they also have print instructions. If a parent or a child is having difficulty with it, I will go in or a Member of the assistive technology team will go in and provide the training to them. I have trained several of our high-school students who were blind to use their Bookshare books and the software.
Transcript: Carolyn Schwartzbord
What we’re really trying to do is make the kids accountable. We really want the kids to be sitting in class and we’re going to be reading this book. We want the children to be able to say, “Okay, that book’s in the digital library. I need to go get it and download it onto my laptop.” That’s sort of the emphasis has been on really making the kids the experts, because not all kids in the classes need a digital or an electronic book. So it’s really been helping the child know how to do that themselves. Our AT boot camp, which is before school starts, the kids come in for, like, a two-hour block, and we’ll download books into their network account. And we’ve also used the expert students with the new novice students, so sometimes the middle-school kids will help maybe a child coming into fourth grade. So we really want to develop their skills. What we really have wanted to do is try to get ownership for the teachers and for the kids, have the kids become really the experts that are going to teach their peers, as well as sometimes their teacher. We have done a lot of training with parents, too, on Bookshare available for their kids and told them how they can also download books for recreational, leisure reading as well.
Look up text in a dictionary
Listen to synthetic speech reading
Change font style
Change color of text
Change color of background
Listen as Jim Fruchterman talks about how an unexpected need increased the number of digital files an individual can download from the Bookshare library (time: 1:12).
One of my favorite stories is, even though Bookshare gives sort of an unlimited library card to people with print disabilities, we do set a download limit of a hundred books per month. And one of the surprising things was that within the first year of Bookshare there are handfuls of people who kept hitting their hundred-book-per-month download limit. And so we sent them emails, said why are you trying to read a hundred books a month? And their answer was that they were browsing. So, for blind people who could never go to a library or a bookstore and look at six books and pick the one they wanted to read, Bookshare made it possible that they could actually download those five or six books, skim a little bit, read a little bit, just like a sighted person does and then pick the book they’re actually going to read. So we now increased the monthly limit to two hundred books for people who are dedicated browsers. It’s basically just leveling the playing field for people with print disabilities so that they don’t start with this disadvantage where they can’t get access to the textbook or to the reference work or to the recommended reading that all their peers do.
Organizing Downloaded Files
School personnel should have a system in place for organizing downloaded books and educational materials. It is advisable to set up computer file folders for each student. Here are some suggested configurations for the file management system on your computer:
Create grade-level folders and then, within the grade-level folders, create individual student folders for each qualified student. Add folders for additional subjects as needed.
Middle school/High school
Option 1: Create grade-level folders and then, within those, create individual student folders for each qualified student. Add folders for additional subjects as needed.
Option 2: Create folders for each subject and then create individual folders for each qualified student within each subject folder. Add folders for additional subjects as needed.
In addition to storing the files on a school computer, school personnel can distribute them to students on portable USB devices.
Another tool Bookshare offers to make it easier to organize, access, and read books is the Reading Lists feature. With this feature, books can be saved to virtual reading lists that can be retrieved easily from anywhere a sponsor or member has Internet access. Sponsors can share lists with their students who have individual memberships. Teachers can create lists and add students directly from their rosters. Watch the brief “Learn it Now” tutorial below to learn more (time: 2:02).
Transcript: How to use Reading Lists for Organizations
This tutorial will demonstrate how sponsors on organizational accounts can use Bookshare’s reading list feature to organize titles and then access or download those titles quickly and easily for students. Sponsors can also share reading lists with students so they can download independently. Note that only students who have both individual and organizational memberships will be able to access shared reading lists.
To start, go to www.bookshare.org and log into your account. Select the “My Reading Lists” link in your taskbar and then select “Create Reading List.” Assign a name to your new reading list, and if you wish include a description. If you plan to share your reading list with students, select “Reading List is Visible to All Reading List Members” from the dropdown menu then select “Save.” Next, add books to your reading lists by searching or browsing for books. When you find a title you want to add, select the “Add to Reading List” link and select the reading list to which you want to add it. Once you have added titles to your reading list, you can access them anywhere you have Internet and download books quickly and easily for your students.
Now that you’ve created a reading list and added books to it, you can share this reading list with students. To enable students to access the reading list and download books on their own, open a reading list and select “Members” then select “Add Members” to see your student list. Students with individual memberships will be designated as “Org + Individual” in the Membership column. Select the students with whom you want to share the reading list then select “Add Selected Members.” Your reading list has now been shared.
If your students do not have individual memberships, we encourage you to help set them up. To learn how, refer to the “How Do I Get Individual Memberships for My Students?” tutorial.
To learn more about other Bookshare topics, visit the Bookshare Website, the Bookshare channel on YouTube, and Bookshare on Facebook.