Ginny Grant

Bookshare Product Manager
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Everything posted by Ginny Grant

  1. Ginny Grant

    Amazon Alexa reading books on voice command

    We had a volunteer sign up with our Developer Program planning on building this capability a few months' back - I will check in with him to see how it is going!
  2. Continuing our improvements to our search capability, we've begun adding cover images to search results, which may assist Bookshare users who are sighted or those who are assisting Bookshare members in finding their book among the more than 500,000 titles in the collection. Cover images will appear where we have an identifiable image within the book itself, and as of May 1, we are going to an external source to try and get missing images, based on the ISBN. On the title detail page, you can select the cover image for a larger view of it, and from that large image, you can choose to 'Read Now' in Bookshare Web Reader, 'Add to Reading List' or download in your preferred format (including EPUB). As of mid-April you started to see these cover images on the title detail pages, and now, as of May 1, cover images appear in the search results pages. With the upcoming release in mid-May, you will also see them in Reading Lists, so stay tuned. Our perception is that the Bookshare site seems more like a library or online collection of books, but we'd love to hear your thoughts!
  3. As mid-March, 2017, we introduced some new search results pages, that visually moved all of the list sorting and filtering options, such as "relevant authors", "categories" and "discover other books" into the left side of the page. We have tried to keep the page navigation as similar as possible for users of screen readers, but there may be some small changes. Today, April 4, we released the next round of improvements to that filtering area, which allow you to "refine" the search results even further! You will see up to 10 categories listed for any given search result, showing the most relevant categories for the search terms that you entered. For example, if you search for 'Percy Jackson' in the quick search, the 130+ results appear, and showing "Literature and Fiction" as the category that is reflected most in that set of books, but also "Children's Books", "Teens" and "Science Fiction", If you select Teens and Science Fiction, then use the "Refine" button, the search results now show a sleek 40-ish results, the top which are all part of the Percy Jackson series. You can do the same for "Winston Churchill", and you can then refine down to "Biographies and Memoirs", "History" or even "Mystery and Thrillers" - who knew? Or search for "Cookbook" and then refine down to "Children's Books" and "History" - there are some great titles that would otherwise be lost in our 530,000+ book collection! Try your own way of slicing and dicing the collection, and please give us your feedback! We have a few more search improvements to go over the next few months - stay tuned...
  4. Ginny Grant

    Tell us what you think about the new search filters!

    Thank you for the feedback, Deborah, and so glad you persevered! I will ask internally if we can make a quick how-to on search refining using a screen reader (whether a help article or a video for our YouTube Channel).
  5. Over the years we have heard people ask "can I download a book in EPUB?" or "Can I open a book in iBooks?". And now we need YOUR help in bringing this request to the finish line! We are now offering EPUB as a download option that is in "Beta". If you would like to test out this capability, we invite you to use our new Beta options: 1) Go to the "Help us "Beta test" new features page: 2) Choose the Activate EPUB 3 Beta option, which will then display EPUB as a download format. We recommend that you also Activate EPUB 3 Reader Beta to get the full effect of the improvements we've been making "behind the scenes". 3) Once you've downloaded the book as an EPUB, you can open in iBooks or another reading tool that supports EPUB 3 We have not tested all books on all platforms yet, but we'd love to hear feedback! iBooks definitely seems to be working nicely, but of course people use iBooks differently depending upon their needs and preferences.
  6. Ginny Grant


    Another option to try is to download a title as EPUB and open that title in iBooks (the file is actually an EPUB 3). This free reading tool may work for some of your kiddos - check out the Help Center article called: Can I open a book in iBooks? for more details. We'd love to hear how that option works for you!
  7. Ginny Grant

    Adding multiple category searches

    Thank you for the suggestion! As product manager for Bookshare, Go Read and Read2Go, I will take down that suggestion to be able to filter multiple categories at once in order to reduce the number of search results to an even tighter set. As Nick said, we do already have that capability on the website, but not in the API which the apps are using. Until we have that in-place, could I suggest a workaround? On the Bookshare site, use the Advanced Search page to filter on a couple of categories, such as Medicine + Law, Legal Issues and Ethics (which currently returns 472 titles). Take a look at those titles, and then add the ones you are most interested in to a reading list that you create, so you can more easily find them again and download when ready. Just a thought - we'd love to hear how that idea works for you!
  8. Ginny Grant

    Bookshare Web Reader Beta

    The "Beta" flag recently appeared on our "Read Now" link on Chrome environments, because of a change in our underlying systems architecture, but that will be corrected shortly. In truth, the only changes that have been made recently to Bookshare Web Reader are some bug fixes around the settings pop-up window, where you can change your font, font size, margins, color scheme, and voice settings. If you are not able to use the read-aloud (microphone icon in the menu bar) option, you should: * Check that you don't have the Web Reader chrome extension turned on. That extension is no longer needed and can interfere with other extensions (such as study tools like Read&Write or Snap&Read). * Read through our help article It may be that your environment doesn't have voices installed that are compatible with the browser's TTS. * Also note, that the read-aloud option (synchronized voice with highlighted text) is not fully-functional on some browsers like Kindle Silk, Opera, Firefox, Edge or Mobile Safari (e.g. on your iPad) but you can enlarge the font or use another screen-reader like JAWS or VoiceOver. As those browsers are able to handle word-by-word highlighting and voicing, we will truly look for Beta testers! For more information on what browsers we support visit: If none of these ideas work, please do contact our fabulous tech support group at:
  9. Ginny Grant

    Books on my iPad?

    Perkins School for the Blind has created a really nice summary of how to use this Beta feature: THANK YOU to the eLearning team at Perkins! Based on the responses we've gotten so far, we are planning on opening up EPUB as a download format to all members soon (for use with reading tools like iBooks that support EPUB 3 file format). Please do keep the feedback coming!
  10. Ginny Grant

    Web Reader Trials Runs

    Thank you Jay, for the suggestions, and to Karen for reminding folks about extensions like Don Johnston's Snap&Read or Text Help's Read&Write on top of Bookshare Web Reader. We are also actively working with Amazon to allow Go Read (our free android app) into the Kindle Store for use with a Kindle Fire. That is the first app that offers Reading Lists, so we are very excited about the App, and hopeful that it could work for you on your Kindle Fire tablets too!
  11. Ginny Grant

    Amazon Alexa reading books on voice command

    Thanks Bryce! We are actively working with Amazon to get Go Read available in the Kindle Store for use with Kindle Fire. After that, there may be a future for Alexa to be able to the TTS voice behind a Bookshare title, but there is a lot of work and partnership-building that would be necessary. Keep the ideas coming!
  12. Ginny Grant

    Adding Other Teachers to Account

    Another hint for educators is to keep your "Quicklist" up-to-date; only the students who you are currently working with should be showing when you filter the Member list to "My Quicklist" (you will need to select the Filter button for now... Then, even if your school has 500 students registered as Members in the overall roster, your list is short. Each new student you add as a member is defaulted into your Quicklist, but you can also search through the list of students that other sponsors have been adding to the overall roster. Students can be (and are!) supported by more than one educator, so several of you can have the same student on your quicklists at any given time. When you are ready to remove a member from your quicklist, just click the checkbox for that student and then choose the 'Remove from Quicklist' option at the bottom of the page.
  13. Excellent points and we have started to look at ways that we can give educators easier insight into which books require the student to have an IEP and which might not be able to open for the student in Web Reader (but could be downloaded for use with other reading tools). A workaround for the question of whether a student is eligible for a title that is sourced by the NIMAC is to go onto your Reading List, and then select the "Download" button for a title on that list. The list of students displayed is ONLY the students who are assigned to that reading list, and those who have an "NA" instead of checkbox next to their name would not have access to that title, through any of our reading tools because of the state in which your school is located and/or because that student is not registered with us as having a public school IEP. Stay tuned for next steps!
  14. I realize that we hadn't updated this posting with some improvements that we made during last school year, so wanted to pull that update into this forum too! I hope you will look at the new back-to-school quick guides and information about how Reading Lists are even easier to use, as is managing your Member List. As long as a student is considered an "Organizational Member" any sponsor in the same organization can set up a student login (username and password), or can reset that student's password. We are looking into ways that we can offer sponsors the ability to reset passwords for Org Members who also have an Individual Membership, but since Student Logins have been so powerful, it is less critical to move students onto Individual Memberships as in the past.
  15. Ginny Grant

    Sleep Timers

    Excellent! We will be starting to brainstorm on what changes will go into the next development efforts for Go Read, and it sounds like a sleep timer would be well-used. Keep the ideas and votes coming... :-)
  16. Ginny Grant

    Improve handling of larger books in BRF

    Interesting question, and one that will need engagement from our legal department! We operate under the Chafee Amendment, and our understanding has always been that we are not able to modify the contents of the titles to which we have been granted access in any way, so distributing just a chapter or even what might be considered a separate version of book that has been "bundled" is not allowed. Certainly from a customer perspective, or even a proofreading perspective, it might be nice to be able to request smaller segments of a title in the collection as it would be a smaller file and faster/easier to package, download and read. When we have an answer from our Collections Team and Legal, we will update this post with the news. On the topic of verses in each chapter getting clustered together or mis-numbered, I don't have a good answer for across the board, so need to ask you to please submit a Book Quality Report with the specifics of which title has the problem and some details about which chapter and verses are good examples. Our Collection Development team or a Volunteer can then proofread it, and/or log a bug with our Engineering team that our conversion to DAISY is having an issue with this type of navigational element. The "Report book quality issue" link can be found on the detail page for a given title; you must be logged in to submit the report. Thank you!
  17. Ginny Grant

    Make Bookshare available on Kindle

    We have recently made Bookshare Web Reader available on the Silk browser that is available on the Kindle Fire. That said, it is not as fully-functional as Bookshare Web Reader is on Chrome. It can read aloud using a native TTS voice, but does not display word-level highlighting; it can display large font and offer different colors. So, depending upon your needs, this might be an option for reading Bookshare titles on your Kindle Fire device. Log into with your username and password, and then try the "Read Now" - we'd love to hear what you think! We are still working with Amazon to get Go Read reinstated in their Kindle Store. BARD and Voice Dream Reader apps are both there, so we are hopeful that this time we will succeed. Fingers crossed!
  18. This is an interesting conundrum, Debee! We have offered the option to review books on Bookshare pretty much since the beginning, but rarely do people submit reviews. Perhaps as you suggest, the place to review a book is not easily located (it is on the tail end of the book detail page), and also there is little incentive. We have also wondered whether we should just integrate with another service where there are thousands of people reviewing books all the time, like GoodReads or Amazon. Are reviews the best place to consider for a future enhancement? Or, should we build a "book recommendation" tool, such as "other people who selected titles that you did also downloaded..."? Or a quick way to find other books that are on the same reading list as a book you like? It would be great to hear what our voracious readers think about discovering their next book in our ever-growing collection...
  19. Ginny Grant

    Books on my iPad?

    If you are an iBooks user, we are testing out a new "Beta" feature that allows you to select "EPUB" as the download format and then "Open in..." iBooks or another reading tool that supports EPUB 3. To try out this feature, we invite you to use our new Beta options: 1) Go to the "Help us "Beta test" new features page: 2) Choose the Activate EPUB 3 Beta option, which will then display EPUB as a download format. We recommend that you also Activate EPUB 3 Reader Beta to get the full effect of the improvements we've been making "behind the scenes". 3) Once you've downloaded the book as an EPUB, you can open in iBooks or another reading tool that supports EPUB 3 We have not tested all books on all platforms yet, but we'd love to hear feedback! iBooks definitely seems to be opening these titles nicely, but people experience iBooks differently, depending upon their needs and preferences. Also, we recently made Bookshare Web Reader available on more platforms; not all of the synchronized highlighting and read-aloud functionality is there on every browser, but you can always use VoiceOver, TalkBack, JAWS or other screen reader to read aloud. Learn more about which browsers are compatible.