Federal Funding Series: Bookshare: Investing in Accessibility

Written by NCLD policy team | 2 weeks ago

In 4th grade, Paloma swore off reading. Paloma has dyslexia and even though she loves books, reading was too frustrating to be enjoyable. But when her father found a program called Bookshare, all of that changed.

Bookshare provides books in a variety of accessible formats to students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and visual impairments. The library has more than 550,000 titles, in a variety of accessible formats, which are provided at no cost, thanks to support from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Paloma now uses Bookshare to download books onto her iPad, and uses a reading tool app to listen to the books while following along on the screen. While Paloma continues to receive the specialized reading instruction she needs in school, Bookshare allows her to enjoy reading recreationally again, without the frustration she experienced with traditional books.

Reading doesn’t come easily to everyone, and tools like Bookshare can make a powerful difference for students with reading challenges like dyslexia. But the program receives funding through a federal award from the U.S. Department of Education, and with the Administration’s recently proposed drastic cuts to education funding for FY18, free access to Bookshare may be in jeopardy.

For thousands, Bookshare offers accessibility
Bookshare has the power to transform the experience of students like Paloma and help them find success. Bookshare already reaches over 450,000 students in the U.S., and more are signing up every day.

There are thousands of students who struggle to read and cannot keep up with their classes–not because they aren’t smart, but because reading takes so much effort. In some cases, Bookshare can make a difference on a large scale, like in Albuquerque, New Mexico.In the state’s largest district with around 95,000 students, nearly 90% of the district’s 161 schools have Bookshare accounts, and about 75% of the students who are eligible are taking advantage of the program.

The promise Bookshare holds for many
Bookshare has made it possible for more than 450,000 students across the country to download more than 4 million books since 2012. But with as many as 1 in 5 children who struggle with learning and attention issues that can impact reading, Bookshare has the potential to transform learning for many more.

How can you help Bookshare reach more kids?
The Administration has recently proposed some drastic cuts to education funding for FY18, and Bookshare may be one of the programs that will get cut. If reading matters to you and you want to make sure that more students and schools have free access to Bookshare, take action now.

For Paloma, her father and the thousands of other students who can benefit from programs like Bookshare, join NCLD in telling your members of Congress that this program matters to you and the children you care about!


Read the second installment in our Federal Funding Series here. 

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