From the World of Assistive Technology to Pioneering the West:By Shareef Phillips, posted on January 20, 2023
Meet Magaly Gonzalez, Benetech’s Outreach Coordinator in Clark County, Nevada.
Benetech is pleased to introduce Magaly Gonzalez, Benetech’s Outreach Coordinator based in Clark County, Nevada. Magaly works in the Clark County School District which includes the city of Las Vegas. We are thrilled to have her as part of the Benetech and Bookshare team. Please read below to learn more about Magaly, and the work she is doing in the Western United States to further equity in education. This is part of an ongoing series to introduce the Benetech Community to the regional Outreach Coordinators , who work with urban and rural school districts and communities to ensure teachers and students know about and can effectively utilize the Bookshare platform.
What career path or passion brought you to Benetech?
Working for the Clark County School District (CCSD) as an Assistive Technology Specialist allowed me to recognize the diverse needs in special education. This team is constantly looking for the best technology to help advocate for and accommodate students who need access to general content equitably. Benetech’s focus on using “Technology to empower all people by reducing social and economic inequity”, to me, targets a core educational problem around the way students are learning. I truly believe Benetech genuinely listens to the community and aims to provide the most innovative experience for their members.
What do you believe is the greatest barrier to accessible content for students?
Technology has allowed us to make great strides in providing different formats to access content; the greatest barrier that I have seen students struggle with is access to that content in a format that works for their needs Even in educational settings, there is a struggle to access general print materials. During the Covid pandemic, CCSD was able to provide one to one technology to each student to help overcome this barrier. Now teachers are learning how to adapt their teaching approach and enable student learning through utilizing technology and web-based platforms. With the immense resources available, it becomes hard to discern what is appropriate and the best for each students’ personalized learning path.
How do you think a technology platform like Bookshare can best help students develop a love of lifelong learning?
By focusing and working specifically with students who have reading barriers, those students can develop lifelong learning by being enabled to read anything – whether it is an assignment for school or a topic area they have a passion for. Having that powerful convenience to access any content as it is available empowers students to have an opportunity equal to their peers by simply making their reading experience uniquely adapted to their needs. Bookshare helps students tackle many problems by offering them various options, from having a bigger font size for their visual needs to slowing the speech rate and helping them with decoding words.
Could you share an example of how you have seen Bookshare inspire and help a student or teacher?
I’ve been to numerous classrooms where I introduce Bookshare to students. After showing them how Bookshare is a unique resource to help them read better and make the experience their own, they quickly become eager to find out how they can get access to other books that they read leisurely in addition to the textbooks that they are currently using in their classrooms. The appreciation for Bookshare is immediate and empowers them to take control of their own learning and normalizes that everybody learns differently.
What advice do you have for teachers who aren’t sure how to get started with Bookshare?
Go to bookshare.org and review the getting started resources. Bookshare has made the process of signing up extremely simple. The best part is that school and student accounts are free. Bentech and the Bookshare team truly understand the importance of literacy in education. Benetech works vigorously to truly improve the readers’ experience to meet students’ needs.
Are you an educator in Clark County, Nevada? You can reach Magaly at [email protected]