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eBooks and Print Disabilities

While much of the discussion about ebooks has been new devices, like the iPad 2 or the Kindle 3, and how ebooks are outselling print books, and I'm still seeing writings about how a digital book just doesn't have the "feel" of a book. But if you are a person with a print disability, you most likely don't care about those things, you just want to be able to read effectively. When I work with students who have disabilities in my classes, usually one of the first things that we try to do is get what ever texts that we are using for that class in digital format. Once we have it in a digital format then we can manipulate the display, such as by increasing the font size or changing the contrast, or even going so far as to use text-to-speech tools - all of these can be a big help to the students with low vision. I have even used ebooks with some of my students who had physical disabilities such as CP, where manipulating an ebook reading device was easier and less taxing than a physical book would be.

If you are not familiar with the resources such as Bookshare, can provide an important service to schools and students by providing digital text to qualified persons with disabilities, such as low vision, blindness, reading disabilities, dyslexia, and mobility impairments. For this kind of service a school or individual may subscribe if the school or individual needs specialized services relating to adaptive reading or information access needs. Bookshare is free to all US students with qualifying disabilities and currently offeres access to about 90,000 texts in digital format. . 

Schools use Kobo e-readers for students with visual impairments
An Illinois school district, as part of a pilot program, is using Borders' Kobo e-readers for its students with low vision and visual impairments. The e-readers allow students to select larger text sizes to read books and avoid cumbersome large-print volumes. The Kobo devices were chosen for their compatibility with the Bookshare program, which provides free access to books for students with visual disabilities. The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) (4/29)


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