What are accessible E-books?
Many students experience difficulty with reading a paper copy of a book that is assigned in class or that they want to read on their own. They might have a visual impairment, attention issue, print disorder, or a physical challenge (inability to hold a book.) They may need the book to be read aloud to them, and technology can help by offering a read-aloud or text-to-speech option of a digitized book or eBook.
Thousands of eBooks have been created over the years- some for free and others for purchase. IMPORTANT: many eBooks do not offer a way for the text to be read aloud by a laptop or iPad/phone/android. A student must be able to read the text visually, and many offer font size/color choices, but there is no text-to-speech option, which would make the eBook accessible to students who struggle with reading.
Below, you will see both options: standard eBooks and accessible eBooks as well as audio books, which are human-read books with no visible text.
Bookshare information is here as well-it is a resource for qualified students who have print, visual or physical disabilities. Most eBooks that are assigned in the district are available here, but not all students who could benefit, qualify. Typically they will be on an IEP or 504. See details.
Newsela is located at the end of this page. It is a collection of current news stories for students of various ages and reading levels, and can be read aloud with technology. Excellent resource and widely used in 4J.
Free resources for younger students-eBooks and audio books
Some schools have purchased a subscription to Epic! for younger students, which offers some titles in audio format and some with audio and highlighting of the text that a child can read along with. These are human voices. For the free version, go to getepic.com/students
Class code is ntx5425
Note: not available weekends or before/after normal school hours for free version
Tumblebooks: This is a great resource for eBooks and audio books for younger students. Many of them show students the visible text while the words are being read aloud in human voices. It is available through some schools which have purchased it, or free from the Eugene Public Library. There are books in Spanish and French as well! There is also an app for iPads.
Storyline Online: Collection of YouTube videos of celebrities reading books for younger children. There is an app for the books. https://www.youtube.com/c/StorylineOnlineSAF/featured
Public Library sources. Sora, Libby, Hoopla
Important: If a student does not have a library card, their parent can call (541)682-5450 and gain access to all digitized materials, all over the phone. To check out physical books and also have the digitized library, a student and parent must come into the library with a student ID and will be given a free library card.
Audibooks are found in numerous ways – paid and free options. The public library offers many titles that can be downloaded through apps such as Sora, Libby and Hoopla. These are human-read and are audio-only. Note: eBooks in Libby and Sora are not accessible on iPads or laptops with accessibility features, meaning they can’t be read aloud by your device. If you just want to see the book, they work well and offer various visual settings. Hoopla, however, does have read-aloud options for eBooks. See below.
Free ebooks & audiobooks from the library. There are limited titles and copies, just like any time that you try to check out a book, but worth trying.
On an iPad, load the Sora app and sign into Eugene School District and use the student 4J user name and password. Tap on the binoculars icon to search for a book. If your book is there, tap on borrow. You will see audiobooks and eBooks. For an eBook, you will have font choices and colors. (NOTE: you cannot use accessibility features on your iPad/Phone to have the text read to you)
NOTE: We encourage students with attention or reading challenges to read along on a hard copy of the book, while listening to an audio book. This can improve reading skills and comprehension.
Hoopla: Good news! This is a great way for students to download audio books and also accessible eBooks, meaning the Hoopla app on an iPad or the browser on a laptop will allow for text-aloud with the screen-reading features built into the technology. Hoopla is tied to the public library and requires a library card and a user name and password to be set up. 10 titles per month per student.
Hoopla on a laptop: Go to the Eugene Public Library website https://www.eugene-or.gov/4422/Eugene-Public-Library, and search for a Hoopla book, by typing in the word Hoopla before the title or author.
Once you find your book, click on click on this eBook from Hoopla. Then click on borrow then read. You will see options on the top left corner.
Make sure 2-column is UNCHECKED and vertical scrolling is turned on. Then, use the Read&Write web toolbar to have the book read to you-use hover speech. See Mac Accessibility page on this site or watch this YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKLlPwZ7qkw
Hoopla App on an iPad or iPhone
Download the Hoopla app. Sign into the free account that you have set up. It will also ask for the library card number /password. Borrow the eBook, then tap read. (some titles have a read along option with a human voice, highlighting the text as it is read). For a standard eBook, use the two-finger swipe method of text-to-speech that is demonstrated on this site under iPad Accessibility or watch this YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-o3U4hDCOc
Free eBooks : classics and books in the public domain
Project Gutenberg: Gutenberg offers free downloads of over 60,000 eBooks . They can be read aloud with iPads/phones and laptops.
There are no sign-in requirements. Very easy to use.
Go to: https://www.gutenberg.org/
Locate the book. You will then be given several ways to download the eBook.
Gutenberg eBooks : Laptop
- Read this book online on a laptop-HTML: Read in web browser and use the Read&Write toolbar with the hover speech option-see Mac accessibility page of this site or watch YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKLlPwZ7qkw
- EPUB (no images) Download this and it should open automatically into your iBooks. From there, open the book and use the screen-reading capacity of your Mac. You can also change visual settings, create bookmarks, highlight text and the books will remain on your Bookshelf. You can set up the Mac to read with Control and R keystrokes-most 4J laptops are set up already. Try it first by selecting any text, hitting control then R to see if it reads the text aloud. Change the voice and speed in your System Preferences. See video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h2Q9Ef6Sf4 .
- Plain Text: This is the simplest way to quickly open a book and use the screen reader in the Mac-see above-but there are no visual settings or bookmarks and it will not be saved anywhere.
Gutenberg eBooks : iPads and iPhones
On an iPad, go to https://www.gutenberg.org/ in Safari. Locate a book in search and browse tab.
Choose HTML: with this option, the book will open in a browser and you can use the screen reading features built into the iPad to read the text. If you use the tap and hold and then select text option, you will see the text being highlighted as it is read. The two-finger swipe also works but without highlighting. See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGJTDRKH9i4
Once the book is open in the Safari app, look at the top-left of the browser bar, you will see a small A/big A-you can tap on them to change the font size.
Save the book to your iPad screen by tapping on the send icon (up/arrow) and choose Add to home screen.
OR you can send the book to iBooks and the screen reader will read it aloud
Bookshare – free eBooks with audio for qualified students
Bookshare is an organization that offers students with “qualifying disabilities” alternative formats to access assigned novels and also some textbooks. What does this mean? Books can be downloaded from the website and put into a text reader on a computer or tablet/phone-it is then read to the student in a digitized voice. The student can also see the text as it is read and each word is highlighted. There are many voices that can be downloaded. Font size and color can be changed to accommodate students with vision issues. This is a free service for qualified students.
How can I sign my students up?
Contact Jordan Gentzkow for help. He is the person who manages the accounts and helps teachers set up the systems in their schools. NOTE: students must be on an IEP or 504 and have a print disorder, visual impairment, or physical disability.
During Distance Learning- free access to a selection of ebooks for ALL students
During distance learning, Bookshare is offering a large selection of books to ANY students in the U.S. No signing students up for the service is required for these titles. They can be read aloud to students on any computer as they read along, or they can just read the books on the screen if they don’t need the read-aloud support. This is the link: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/search-freely-available
See video. https://youtu.be/T1Ctu6LJTQc
iPads don’t work with the books in the same way that computers do, but there is one method of having the books read aloud that is demonstrated in the video below. Of course, students who don’t need the support of the read-aloud feature can just read the text on the iPad.
Set up iPad to read books aloud: https://youtu.be/3hdShcAhZtA
Bookshare membership: Getting started-Teachers
- Contact Jordan Gentzkow for initial sign-up information/permission for students with print disorders who have reading goals on their IEPs. He will sign you up as a sponsor within the Bookshare system, and you will receive an email from Bookshare, instructing you to obtain a username and password. (NOTE: if have any trouble and need assistance, please contact Jordan)
- You will then be able to sign up individual students and download books for them onto computers, iPads or student-owned smart phones. Click on link below:
Computer Access – two options:
- Bookshare Web Reader is listed on the site but has glitches.
- Read&Write EPUB Reader –Students can access assigned books in the Bookshare website, download them, and then open and read them in the Read&Write EPUB reader. Students must have their Google Chrome browser synced to their 4J account to access this tool. The R&W EPUB reader has great accessibility features including text-to-speech, screen masking, notes/highlights, dictionaries, translators, and more. video
- iBooks Application on a Mac -This video demonstrates how Bookshare members with “Organizational”-level Bookshare accounts can log in to Bookshare, find assigned books, download, and then read them in the iBooks application on a Mac computer. This is a nice option to keep the books handy without having to log into an account to read each time. The text-to-speech feature built into the Mac can read the book out loud and there are other great features such as bookmarks, highlights, and notes. video
Tablet/phone Access – four options
- Bookshare Web Reader: This video demonstrates how to log into Bookshare on an iPad using the Safari web browser to read assigned books with the Bookshare Web Reader tool. “Speak Selection” -iOS accessibility feature- is also demonstrated. Both tools permit book content to be read out loud on the iPad. video
- Voice Dream Reader-paid app: Works on Androids and iPads/phones and will read scanned PDFs video
- Dolphin Easy Reader-free works on Androids and iPads/phones. video
- Books -Free- Works on iPads/iPhones. video
Bookshare instructions-Home use -setting up an individual membership
This is helpful if parents want to download books for their children from home. Jordan Gentzkow can help you through this if you have trouble. He will add a parent’s email address into the Bookshare website, prompting Bookshare to send the parent an email, explaining how to set up a user name and password. See link below.
Contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an amazing resource for students of varying reading/comprehension levels. There are hundreds of high-interest articles in many subject areas and each article has several reading levels to choose from. There are quizzes at the end and screen-reading technology will read the text aloud if needed. https://newsela.com/
School staff can create free accounts to use Newsela as a teaching tool on a projector or in a Zoom session with students. Alternatively, staff can create lessons from their free account and share them via Google Drive. The articles can be added to your Drive with or without the multiple choice questions and staff can also save the answers to the questions for grading purposes. See video:
How to make assignments from Newsela articles on a laptop.
Using Newsela on an iPad.
Adding Books icon in order to share/send Newsela article to Books app on iPad
This Google Doc will get you started if you have a paid Newsela account: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mlD_p7C5LRLD_sosRF7fmpZ4Jeq3USkD6fw3iXqINr8/edit