Free e-book info

The following information comes from Jennifer Maurer, School Library Consultant for the State Library of Oregon. Jen posted this on the edWeb.net School Library Network discussion board. Great information, thank you Jen!

electronic books on various devicesMost free eBooks that come with no restrictions are those that are available in the public domain, which means they are no longer under copyright or they never were. If they never were under copyright, they are often self published. Most new to new-ish and copyrighted materials are not available for free, or they come with some restrictions. Even with digital versions of books, the authors, illustrators, and publishers need to get paid by someone in order to make a living or profit.

As … noted, Epic! offers free eBooks to elementary students. The catch is that to access the books at home, parents have to pay to subscribe.

You can check what your local public library offers. In that case, the public library subscribes on behalf of its patrons. Popular platforms include OverDrive (with the Libby app), Cloud Library, and for kids only, some offer Tumblebooks

International Children’s Digital Library  is a grant-funded project that makes children’s books in many languages available online at no cost.

Book Bub is a site that tracks temporary deals for free or inexpensive ebooks. You can sign up to receive a daily email. I’m pretty sure there’s a category for children’s books.

And for classics and other public domain offerings, there are many sites, including Project Gutenberg and Open Library (which has some copyrighted material; not sure how that is okay). This article lists other sites…

By the way, Sync offers 2 free audiobooks per week to download during the summer. The books are aimed at ages 13 and over.

New Report Providing a Snapshot of Trends in State K12 Instructional Materials

Updated Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) Online Portal

Student using iPad to readApril 1, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – SETDA, the principal membership association of the U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders, today announced the release of a new report, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot and updates to the free, online tool to support the implementation of digital instructional materials, Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). Educators, policy makers and the private sector will benefit from organized and accessible information highlighting trends regarding the acquisition of digital instructional materials, including state guidance, definitions and policies, procurement practices, review processes, funding options, and digital learning resources for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. New for 2019 is the topic of professional learning, highlighting the opportunities states provide teachers around the selection, creation and implementation of quality, digital instructional materials. This work supports state and district leaders’ understanding of state policies and can impact policy changes related to instructional materials (including non-traditional instructional materials, such as digital content) to best meet the individual needs of all learners.

“The selection and implementation of digital instructional materials is a top priority in K-12 education environments,” shared Candice Dodson, SETDA’s incoming Executive Director. “SETDA’s newest resource for this critical work, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot, summarizes the current state policies and practices of this process utilizing 2019 updates to our powerful Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) online portal. This portal provides opportunities for collaboration between state and district leaders across the country to bring quality resources to digital teaching and learning for all.”

Both the Snapshots report and DMAPS were developed through the expertise and efforts of state leaders responsible for procurement, instructional materials and educational technology and in collaboration with experts in the field.

For a comprehensive overview, access this recent webinar, Navigating the Digital Shift: Leveraging Quality Instructional Materials for Learning

This work was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About SETDA

Founded in 2001, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal non-profit membership association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders. Our mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit: setda.org.

Increasing Accessibility and Fostering Inclusive Classrooms

The following announcement of this free webinar is from edWeb.net…

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
3:00 pm
 – 4:00 pm ET

Accessibility and Inclusive Classrooms. Boy using tablet.

The goal of this edWebinar is to discuss what inclusive classrooms, employing accessibility, look like from the standpoint of reading, writing, math and communication. The presenters will be sharing examples from Microsoft Education’s free accessibility suite of tools and including the stories of teachers who have worked with students of all abilities in an inclusive classroom setting.

Attendees will learn about:

  • The benefits of inclusively designed lessons and classrooms employing assistive technology
  • Improving learning outcomes for all learners powered by assistive technology tools
  • Current updates on Microsoft Education’s reading, writing, math and communication tools
  • The power of built-in assistive technology and its impact on both social and normative constructs of today’s classrooms

This presentation will be of interest to special education teachers, K-5 educators, reading specialists, TESOL or ELL teachers, librarians, speech pathologists, and school leaders. There will be time to get your questions answered at the end of the edWebinar.

Presented by Mike Tholfsen, Principal Product Manager, Microsoft Education; Lauren Pittman, Graduate Assistant, Vanderbilt University, and former special educator teacher; and Beth Dudycha, Senior Manager, Content Development, Insight2Execution, and Former Educator. Hosted by SETDA and Sponsored by Microsoft.

Use this link for more information and to register for this event…

 

Reaching Accessibility Goals for Higher Education

Accessible Information TechnologyA new article in Inside Higher Ed magazine Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals details the fact that many institutions of higher education fail to have “coherent policies around accessibility. ” And, they note that there has been “…a recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act…”

While the reasons for this situation are many, the article suggests “time constraints” make be a factor. Quoting Cynthia Curry from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)“Part of the problem is that people don’t have the time to do something systemic around accessibility within their institutions…” Curry said. “Most institutions, of course, aren’t looking proactively at accessibility. They’re looking at it more as a retrofit, or they’re being reactive if something litigious comes up.”

Maine CITE’s own resident digital accessibility resource person is John Brandt. Brandt’s own 25-year experience in web development and accessibility suggest that the perceived high cost to make web content accessible is probably the largest single factor in the equation. “Most organizations look at accessibility as expensive because they are approaching it from a mitigation perspective. They often fail to look at the costs associated with NOT having accessible content – lost student admissions, lack of student retention, etc.”

While most web accessibility experts will talk about the importance of “adding accessibility in at the beginning” of a web design process, colleges and universities are often not able to do this since they were among the first organizations to have websites in the 1990s – they have accumulated lots of content.

But even if an institution is committed to improving accessibility, they often don’t know where to start. To that end, the Inside Higher Education article promotes a new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials developed by NC-AEM designed to “help institutions ensure, at scale, that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments.” The article focuses on the NC-AEM’s recently published  “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies” which promote seven quality indicators (QI), each containing specific criteria needed to achieve each QI.

For colleges and universities just starting out with the process, these quality indicators can provide a blueprint and structure of the thinking process that need to be considered. Tom Tobin, one of the people interviewed in the article, encourages “institutions (to) focus accessibility efforts on the potential impact on student access and learning outcomes, rather than merely on ‘legal-compliance arguments.’”

“While the description of the quality indicators alludes to the broad access benefits for all learners when accessible materials, tools and interface are adopted, the actual indicators and critical components are focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners with disabilities — only a part of the access conversation,” Tobin states in the article.

Read “Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals”

Read/view the NC-AEM – “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies”

Articles: Assistive Tech for Students with Dyslexia

Student using iPad to readTwo articles appeared recently on Edutopia, a free on-line education resource supported by the George Lucas Foundation. 

In The Benefits of Ear-Reading bDana Blackaby, a dyslexia specialist discusses the assistive technologies she uses to help students with dyslexia make gains in reading. In the article, Blackaby discusses her observations of several of her students with dyslexia using a technique she called “ear reading.” She describes this as, “a key strategy…having (the students) read along with audiobooks, which is beneficial in tying their emotional belief system directly to their academic performance.”

Blackaby goes on to note, “These students have made marked improvements in their reading skills and social behavior as a result of our structured literacy curriculum, my high expectations for their achievement, and their use of supplemental assistive technology resources. Through the structured literacy curriculum, I teach students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner that focuses on phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable types, and syntax. In addition, this instruction is delivered in a multisensory way that is proven to build pathways to improve phonological memory.”

As a benefit she notes the following results:

After using these resources with fidelity, my students performed higher on state testing and demonstrated large strides in self-confidence. In our state assessments, 97 percent of my students who utilized audiobooks and text-to-speech software met the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) reading standard.

Read the full article The Benefits of Ear-Reading on Edutopia…

The second Edutopia article Accommodating Students With Dyslexia, Jessica Hamman describes “five easy-to-implement accommodations can make class less stressful and more manageable for students with dyslexia.” The five accommodations include access to audio books, note-taking apps, as well as encouragement for students to utilize text-to-speech technologies.

Read the full article: Accommodating Students With Dyslexia on Edutopia…

 

Described and Captioned Media Program

Blind boy using Braille embosserThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the Department of Education.

DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.

The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that students (early learners through Grade 12) who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Adapting and developing new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.

The Described and Captioned Media Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

Please visit DCMP for more information…

Grand plan for new e-publishing tool

From E-Access Bulletin…

“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool – A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

electronic books on various devicesThe ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

Ace works by assessing content published in the widely used EPUB format. Automated checks are performed and accessibility issues are flagged-up in a report generated by the tool.

The hope is that the tool will assist the publishing industry and authors in creating e-books that conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification. Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, DAISY Consortium’s Chief Operating Officer Avneesh Singh said: “We expect the publishing industry to use Ace widely, integrate it in their production workflows and improve accessibility of all their publications over time, leading to ‘born accessible’ publications.”

However, Ace’s developers are keen to stress the tool’s limitations as well as its benefits. They point out that Ace performs only automated checks and does not provide a complete picture of all possible accessibility violations, and should therefore be used alongside other forms of testing and evaluation.

Read the entire article on  E-Access Bulletin…

Subscription to e-Access Bulletin is completely free. You will be sent a monthly, text-only email newsletter on the latest developments in digital accessibility and assistive technology. To subscribe please click through to their sign-up page at lists.headstar.com .

 

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…

AIM Under 5: AIM for Student Transition

AIM Under 5 - videos about AIMThe latest in our series of “under 5” minute videos regarding all thing AIM has been posted to our YouTube Channel.

Produced and edited by Cynthia Curry, this AIM Under 5 discusses issues related to Transition – the activities associated with the students with IEP’s moving from high school to a post-secondary educational experience.

Check out the new video and share the news with your friends and colleagues!

>>View AIM Under 5: Transition on YouTube

14 Million Digital Books Available To Print Disabled Users

electronic books on various devicesMore than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan.

When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.

Over the coming year, NFB and HathiTrust will collaborate to plan and implement these services. User eligibility will be determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law.

According to Furlough, HathiTrust currently provides a similar service to qualified print-disabled students at its member schools. The new program will expand this service to allow similarly qualified users not affiliated with HathiTrust schools access to full-text works in the HathiTrust collection.

NFB and HathiTrust, like the federally operated National Library Service, will lawfully and securely make books available to qualified people in the U.S. who have print disabilities.

Read the entire press release to learn more about this announcement…