Alternatives to Bookshare
For most people, reading is a pleasurable activity, but it can be challenging for those with print disabilities. People with visual impairments and learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia often struggle to read traditional books and require content in alternative formats.
Fortunately, struggling readers can rely on several support services like Bookshare. This audiobook depository allows users to hone their reading skills and enjoy their favorite stories. It also raises awareness about the importance of accessibility in printed media.
We’ll review this disability service and highlight some of its key features. Since not all users with disabilities may qualify for Bookshare, we’ll provide several other options you can try today.
What is bookshare.org?
Bookshare is a digital library with over one million titles in an electronic format.
This national center receives funding from the Office of Special Education and the U.S. Department of Education, but it offers more than just educational content. Users can discover electronic books, or e-books, in various genres, including children’s books, biographies, adult titles, new releases, and public domain books.
Students with visual disabilities can use the service for free. Learners who are blind or visually impaired automatically qualify for the platform, as do those with reading/learning disabilities. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a perceptual disability and struggles to differentiate between sight words, they can apply for Bookshare.
However, the program has strict eligibility requirements for free access, so not all students with conditions like dysgraphia, ADHD, and auditory disabilities may qualify. The good news is that even ineligible applicants can use this e-book library after paying a relatively affordable service fee.
Bookshare is currently available online as a web reader, but users should expect an iOS and Android mobile app by the end of 2022.
Those who qualify for Bookshare can:
Listen to titles in studio-quality audio
Improve concentration by following highlighted text
Tweak the reading speed, font style, and font size
Track their reading progress
The Web Reader works best with the following browsers:
The customization options are great for users who have difficulty reading e-books in standard print.
Bookshare operates similar to a library service. For instance, college students can search for textbooks without attaching a proof of purchase. After downloading the free e-books, students can send in a request form should some course materials not fit their needs. This could mean asking for a version with additional images for students with visual impairments.
You can submit a request form if Bookshare doesn’t have a specific textbook in its collection. The platform’s research team will review the textbook request, try to digitize the title, and add it to the catalog of Bookshare books.
Other options for Bookshare fans
If you like what bookshare.org brings to the table, you might be interested in exploring several similar websites. The options below have different inbuilt reading tools that make e-text formats more accessible.
Founded in 1995, Audible was one of the first audiobook providers in the world. Amazon bought the platform in 2008, expanding its services to cover podcasts and original content. Users can choose between an Audible Premium and an Audible Plus subscription. The former offers Audible members exclusive discounts and a free audiobook each month.
The service is compatible with nearly all devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Windows Phones, Android, and iOS.
Regardless of your streaming device, the Audible app is full of features that guarantee an enjoyable experience. The interface is intuitive, and you can tweak the playback settings and enable sleep timers.
VitalSource is a service that allows students with disabilities to access e-books that cater to their specific needs. Although not all titles are available in an audio format, many have a Read Aloud functionality and a suite of similar accessibility features.
For books unavailable in audio format, students are encouraged to bring proof of purchase to their local DRC (Disability Resource Center) office, which will assist them in obtaining a more accessible copy.
Bookshelf by VitalSource is an excellent option for students with reading difficulties and those who want a paperless college experience. This mobile app is easy to use and features:
Advanced search options for going through books, figures, and workbooks
A text to speech (TTS) tool that supports multiple languages
A workbook for editing notes, adding bookmarks, and reviewing key concepts
Offline reading support
Custom style options for the app display
The app is compatible with Android, Microsoft, iOS, macOS, Chromebook, and Amazon Kindle products.
Accesstext Network (ATN) is an intermediary between publishers and higher education institutions across the U.S. It strives to help all students reach their full potential and thrive in their academic careers. Students can inform their college which textbooks they have purchased, and professors can input that information in ATN. The platform will retrieve any downloadable format and email it to the school.
It can convert virtually any text format into audio output, including Microsoft Word documents, Google docs, EPUB, RSS feeds, Amazon Kindle e-books, and more. Although some read-aloud apps are only available in English, people from all around the globe can use Speechify. It supports over 20 languages, and if you’re looking to brush up on your Dutch, Spanish, or Italian skills, why not give it a go?
Another impressive feature is the note-taking tools, which make learning a breeze. These tools are invaluable for students looking for more productive ways to stay on top of their coursework and reading materials.
Speechify—The text to speech app for disabled readers
One of Speechify’s primary goals is to make printed and digital content more accessible and to ensure that people with disabilities can discover the joys of reading. Whether you want to listen to an audio version of your paper or practice listening comprehension in a foreign language, Speechify’s got your back.
In addition to its standard library of natural-sounding voices, you can access celebrity options and listen to Gwyneth Paltrow or Snoop Dogg narrate an engaging tale. Download the mobile app or Chrome extension to try Speechify for free today. You can switch to a Premium plan at any time.
What age is Bookshare for?
Students of all ages studying in the U.S. can use the service for free if they meet the eligibility criteria.