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Assistive Technology

by Tracy Wicken
NDVS/SB Assistive Technology Specialist

Many students and adults use Bookshare as their main source for educational and recreational digital reading. Students often have a school account (Organizational Membership) where their teacher or educational professional can download books on their behalf. These books are for educational purposes such as textbooks or assigned reading books. They also might be books that the student chooses to read personally, and they are downloaded on the student’s behalf.  This Organizational Membership may have multiple students included within it. Another membership that is available is an Individual Membership where the student or individual controls the downloading of any books that they personally wish to read, when they wish to read them.  A student account is available free to any student. Adult accounts are individual accounts as well and cost $50 per year.  

Something new that Bookshare has launched for Individual Memberships is the ability to read their books via an Alexa-enabled device. Using an Alexa skill called Bookshare Reader, a reader can link their Bookshare library account, list books on their Alexa Reading list, and listen to books read aloud via their Alexa device. They can stop a book while reading, save their reading spot to pick up where they left off later, and adjust the reading speed.  

The Bookshare Reader skill can be found within the Alexa app skills section. It is currently in beta release and available only for Bookshare Individual Members. Future releases will provide access to students and educators on school accounts.

Getting started is easy. Bookshare has created a step-by-step guide on how to listen to Bookshare books on your Alexa-enabled smart speakers and devices. The links are:

One can read in a whole new way with Bookshare Reader. It’s as easy as using your voice. On any Alexa-enabled device, simply tell Alexa to open Bookshare Reader and read a book. Bookshare Reader combines the ease and convenience of voice-enabled tools like Alexa with access to millions of ebooks through the Bookshare library collection. Whether you want to relax to the latest bestsellers or listen to books for school or work, you can read hands-free with Bookshare Reader.

What a wonderful way to do some reading before going to bed, sitting on your porch on a nice summer day or evening, or wherever you enjoy relaxing and listening to your favorite stories and authors. The Bookshare website has all the information you need to sign up, choose your reading medium, and choose your desired books. Try out this new way to read Bookshare books this summer.  You may really like it, and you can choose the books that you want to read when and where you want to read them.  

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