Brian Meersma, Bookshare member and college student, reads a book on a tablet
Education

Breaking through Disability Barriers

Brian is a student at Cornell University where he is studying industrial and labor relations and is on the dean’s list. Bookshare helped him succeed in high school and college by enabling him to do schoolwork and research independently.

Brian was diagnosed with severe dyslexia at a young age. It was difficult for him to read, write, and spell. He struggled to put letters and words into sentences and lost the broader meaning of what he was reading. He could not read what he wanted on his own and relied on his parents to read aloud for him. His inability to understand what the rest of the class was reading made him feel different and excluded.

In middle school, Brian researched various sources of digital books and assistive technologies and discovered Bookshare’s extensive library of accessible ebooks. He uses his computer and iPad to see highlighted words onscreen while listening to the audio narration. Instead of putting all his energy into decoding the words, he can focus on comprehension.

“Bookshare has had a huge impact on my life. Without Bookshare my grades would suffer. I can complete assignments on my own, keep up with my classmates, and really excel in school. Technology helps level the playing field for students with disabilities like me. I now attend Cornell University and help others unlock the power of Bookshare. It’s my hope that all people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia are able to use Bookshare to succeed in the classroom and become lifelong learners.” — Brian Meersma

With help from Bookshare, he has discovered the joy of reading and is now able to explore new things. Bookshare has made such an impact on Brian’s life that he has been an advocate on Capitol Hill for students with disabilities, joined the Bookshare Advisory Board, and writes an assistive technology blog. Bookshare has truly leveled the playing field for Brian and other students with learning disabilities.Now Brian is a student at Cornell University where he is studying industrial and labor relations and is on the dean’s list. Bookshare helped him succeed in high school and college by enabling him to do schoolwork and research independently.

It’s empowering for Brian to have so many books that he needs right at his fingertips. Without Bookshare, he wouldn’t be able to take classes appropriate for his abilities and his grades would suffer. Before Brian started reading books with assistive technology, he never read for fun or really enjoyed a book. “I really don’t think he would have been able to make it to college, let alone do so well in college, without having access to Bookshare,” said Kathy Stratton, Brian’s mother.

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Books delivered to kids with disabilities, igniting their learning and breaking down barriers to their success