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Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

7 Reasons to Pick e-Books

November 10, 2014

E-Books can be a better read, says Michael Kozlowski, a mainstream writer and book reviewer who specializes in horror, self help, humor and comedy.

On the website "Goodereader.com," Koslowski reports that there are good reasons to go with e-Books; and he spells them out in a recent article, eBooks vs. Print — The Reasons Why Digital Is Better.

Here are a few of his favorite features:

  • Cost: e-Books can be more economical than new releases that come out only in hardcover printed editions.
  • Table of Contents (TOC): A clickable TOC offers speedy page-finding, especially when reading textbooks.
  • Cloud Syncing: In BYOD schools with cloud storage, access via a smartphone, tablet or e-reader makes the book accessible beyond the schoolhouse walls.
  • Page Finding: Some vendors offer a feature where readers who leave a book can return to the page last read.
  • Highlights: Electronic highlights are in the hands of the reader.
  • Annotations: Writing notes creates a record of facts and ideas that the reader found important to remember. The notes remain after a rented text is returned. Note-taking varies according to the hardware. Some use touchscreen keyboards, while others use a pen or stylus. These can be chosen to suit individual preferences.
  • Dictionaries and Translations: Pre-loaded dictionaries or downloadable alternates can aid comprehension and word meaning.
  • Fonts: Preferred fonts can be elected, along with adjustments in size.

Kozlowski especially likes the cost benefit that encourages more rather than less reading. "When people ask me what I do for a living, inevitably they ask me about the benefits of an e-reader or eBooks in general. I always cite, if you love to read, you can read more books, while spending less," he says.

AIM For A Reason Koslowski is probably worlds away from referring to the value of e-Books for people with disabilities or professionals in education circles who help them. While he is not speaking directly to that audience, AIM-VA is. E-Books are not simply a nicer read, they can be a student's best connection to curriculum content and grade-level achievement when books in print are barriers to learning.

When accessible e-Books are used with assistive technologies students might no longer lag behind their grade level peers or be part of an achievement gap that educators are forever trying to bridge. Connecting students with accessible versions, since not all e-Books are accessible, is a speciality of AIM-VA and AIM programs across the country.

e-Pubs Electronic publications are only one of the available formats that eligble students can choose in lieu of print. Various no-cost alternatives are possible under federal special education and copyright laws known as IDEA and the Chafee Amendment. Other formats include braille, fully accessible PDF, large print, and HTML.

e-Pub (short for electronic publication) is a free and open e-Book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), say Joyce Sharp and Ian Moore who train teachers for free when their students are found eligible for AIM-VA services.

AIM-Va. e-Pub files work on most all electronic devices. AIM-VA converts e-Pubs from various types of files — Daisy, NIMAS, and other word files so that students can read in the way that suits them best. Any textbooks and/or trade books that a school owns can be converted. Many are now, and those in the AIM-VA collection can be delvered to schools in a short time frame.

The formats are time-tested. By using AIM-VA, or the AIM companion service in other states, schools often avoid having to purchase electronic text versions on the open market. Accessible AIM-VA formats are:

  • Compatible with text-to-speech programs
  • Accessible using a variety of e-Readers including iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Android, Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader, Windows Phone, PC and Mac OSX notebook/desktop systems and more
  • Offer content that is “reflowable,” meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size
  • Available for selection from the enrolled student’s AIM-VA bookshelf
  • Easily streamed online and read aloud using Streamit!
  • Offer built-in bookmarks and electronic navigation through a “Table of Contents”
  • Support students with images that have alternate text descriptions that are read aloud
  • Give page numbers that correspond to the page numbers of the printed text if programmed by the publisher
  • Contact the AIM-VA Help Desk to talk about getting students started with these valuable no-cost supports. School districts that have not particpated in the past in AIM-VA services (or the counterpart in other states) can begin the process today.

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    Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss