Our school has been an “institutional member” of Bookshare since January 2009. Diane Stern, our teacher of the visually impaired, who is designated as the “Primary Contact” person, was invited to participate in a Bookshare Mentors program in September 2010. The mentor program included a contest to encourage schools participation. Our school’s active participation in Bookshare enabled us to win third place recognition and receive a Flip Video Camera.
Ms. Stern dedicated time to learning about the benefits and use of Bookshare and then trained others. She met informally with parents on two evenings, one in New York City and one at the school. She presented a 90-minute workshop to a large group of vision teachers at their annual New York State AER Convention (Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired), held in Syracuse, and a similar workshop to the Viscardi staff on Superintendent’s Conference Day. She has prepared “how to” guides for parents, coached them by phone, and met one-on-one with students and staff
To date, there are now over 100 students registered with Bookshare in school, many of whom are also registered at home. In addition, there are 36 sponsors (teachers, OTs, speech and hearing, tech support, administration). Ms. Stern hopes that the sponsors will be able to manage their own classrooms (search and download their own books, use them during lessons – shown on SMART Boards or individual computers). Therapists can support students during therapy sessions, such as working on vocabulary in context or improving mouse skills with the Read:OutLoud software tools. Parents can download books so students have the books ready for homework, even if a child is absent, and have access to a library of thousands of books at their fingertips to encourage leisure reading.
Ms. Stern recommends the following websites to teachers and therapists, so they can learn more about Bookshare and accessible instructional materials (AIM), a vital part of the universal design for learning (UDL):
For school staff, technology gurus and parents, check out the Online Learning Guides, Online Learning Modules or webinars. From the homepage, click HELP then “Training”: www.bookshare.org
Check out Bookshare 101 for Educators, Bookshare 101 for Parents, How to read Bookshare books with Read:OutLoud and many more.