Trying to setup a District Wide Bookshare Account

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Hello all,

I found Bookshare when looking for support for a student with dyslexia in a high school AP class.  She is in the process of using getting access to the program.  I started thinking about all the students in my district that could benefit from this program.  I requested a district based account to be set up, and I was told to be hesitant.  So these are the questions that were asked, and to look into.  I am working on the answers with the main site, but maybe you all could put in your own thoughts as well.  

Why is the application free?


Distractions on the site?

Firewall issues for students?

Any of those that you would like to shed light on would be much appreciated.

 Also, we are a 1:1 iPad campus, anything I need to know about integrating this tool with that kind of setup?


I am excited to get this setup to support the students.   Thank you for any help.


Patrick Reid

Instructional Technology Specialist

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Hi Patrick,

I completely understand, in the modern day everyone should spend some time investigating things that claim to be free because far too often they really aren't in the end.  But the good news is Bookshare is different, we're able to provide free accounts to all qualified US students thanks to a grant from the US Department of Education!  Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a non-profit in Palo Alto CA, our mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions.

Bookshare does not sell advertising anywhere on our site, the only embedded videos you may find are in our tutorials or other help articles.  When a book is open there is nothing else on screen other than the book itself and of course the controls for the reading tool you're using.

We have on rare occasion hit issues with firewalls, but none have ever been severe enough to completely prevent students from accessing their content.  All of our compatible apps simply download through our website, so in most cases simply ensuring your students can connect to is sufficient.  But if your students to have any trouble accessing their content we have tech support staff ready to assist your IT department in ensuring the connection is white-listed.

As for getting your students up and running with the technology, one of the benefits of Bookshare is we believe in being as open and flexible as possible.  All of our books are available in a wide range of formats, our two most popular formats being electronic braille and electronic text.  Plus we have a completely free API that any developer can tap into allowing them to integrate Bookshare into their own reading application.  In the end this means we have a large selection of compatible apps for you to choose from for both supporting your students with accessing Bookshare at school, as well as assisting them with any devices they may use at home.

For iPads we have three applications that offer direct Bookshare support.  Most of our users find Voice Dream Reader seems to provide the best overall experience, but as everyone's different we encourage you to review all three options to see which one fits your price and feature requirements.  Information on all three options can be found on our Mobile Reading tools page.


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