Some of you may be surprised to learn that Bookshare is more than “just” the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities—it’s part of a broader effort to promote the development of accessibility standards and technology through Benetech’s Global Literacy Program. We’re not only delivering accessible content, we’re also demonstrating what can be done with technology to extend the benefits of this content to our Bookshare members.
One tool that we introduced earlier this year and that shows the power of technology to make a real difference in the lives of our members is Bookshare Web Reader. We think it’s pretty neat—and our members agree with us! Here’s why:
Bookshare Web Reader allows Bookshare members to directly open and read Bookshare eBooks with a Web browser, without having to download any files or use additional software reading tools. It enables users to adjust font size, colors and display format, and takes advantage of new and exciting features in the Google Chrome browser, which allow users to read books multi-modally, with word-by-word highlighting and text-to-speech. Web Reader saves time and effort…and delivers a great reading experience. All a user has to do is find the book s/he is interested in, select “Read Now” and read it instantly in their browser.
Dan Barrett, a Bookshare member who agreed to share his thoughts after testing and using Bookshare Web Reader, wrote: “Opening a book with Web Reader couldn’t be any better than it already is!” Thanks for the feedback, Dan!
Not only do we provide Bookshare Web Reader (and many other Bookshare tools) to our members for free, we also created it as open source. This means that others can use and build off the technology in other ways, to benefit even more people. In fact, “Open over Proprietary” is one of our core Benetech Truths: We create our tools as open source whenever possible, ensuring they’re free and can be improved and adapted by others.
You can find further details about Bookshare Web Reader (and other Bookshare tools), including functionality, browser compatibility and training on Bookshare’s website, which has links to FAQs, video tutorials and webinars.
Are you a student in high gear of back-to-school? Using Bookshare reading tools can help you read independently and participate in class, so that you can spend more time learning and less time catching up. Please check out the Back to School Resource Page that our Bookshare team has put together to help you find the reading tool that’s right for you or this recent Bookshare blog post with tips and helpful information.
We’re committed to continue developing new and easy-to-use tools for our members so they can access and use the content we provide across as many platforms as possible. We invite you to check back on Bookshare’s blog or Benetech’s blog for ongoing updates on our work.