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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.

Advocate for Accessible Digital Books During "Read an E-Book Day" Coming Sept. 18

September 10, 2015

OverDrive, the service that gives library card holders access to free digital books, eBooks and more, invites public participation for Read an eBook Day on Sept. 18. This is an opportunity for teachers, other educators, and parents to advocate for library collections to include eBooks that offer flexible rather than fixed or static digital text. There are different types of digital text and the flexible text is best for most struggling readers 

Accessible Digital Text

Not all digital text is accessible, and flexible digital text is not the norrm. When it is, libraries stand to reach the widest possible audience of eBook readers, including learners with known print disabilities and others who struggle to read.

Digital collections vary widely in size and scope because each local library or school staff makes individual and sometimes complex choices about eBook purchases. "Read an eBook Day" may be an ideal time for library patrons to state a preference for accessible text, as this second annual celebration promotes "modern storytelling" — and expect it to be a time when librarians are calling attention to their eBook collections.

Digital Preferences

What can you do? State your preference for eBooks that not only are "born digital" but that aid understanding because readers can interact with the text. Advocate for features including:

  • Clear navigation and layout so readers can follow text logically and move easily among a table of contents, page numbers, information headings, chapters, and sections within a text
  • Alternative text (Alt. Text) options for interpreting an image or data table that might otherwise be inaccessible to readers
  • A text enlargement feature, simple fonts, and adequate color contrast 
  • Readability across a variety of mobile devices and assistive devices (screen readers and keyboards)
  • Links to dictionaries

Social Media

OverDrive invites libraries and schools to post their activities on social media throughout the day on the OverDrive for Libraries Facebook and Twitter accounts. Ways to work with libraries:

  • Upload photos and share a messageof text accessiblity using the hashtag #eBookLove on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest.
  • Sign a poster and personalize a message about accessible digital text.
  • Sign “pledges” to support libraries that have committed to accessible text options.
  • Spread the word about how to read anywhere and check out accessible eBooks on a smartphone, computer or device.

Accessible Learning

eBooks are important for many and vital for students who struggle to read. Until libraries are a source of accessible text, schools can provide this and other formats for eligible students. Books like these are available at no charge under federal special education law when students have a print disability. The Accessible Educational Materials program, or AEM, provides conversions of traditionally printed textbooks and trade books to students under an exception to copyright law. When print is a barrier to learning, the alternative formats including audio, PDFs, large print, braille and more help eligible students access their curriculum.

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

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"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser