Students with a visual impairment or print disability in Ireland have equal access to college reading material for the first time. This is because of a new initiative, Bookshare Ireland. It was launched by The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) this month.
What is Bookshare Ireland?
Bookshare Ireland is a digital accessible library available at bookshare.ie. It provides access to over 500,000 academic books and other materials in the following formats:
- DAISY Audio
- DAISY with images
- Digital braille
The new library includes international material as well as books published by three Irish book publishers:
- O’Brien Press
- Oak Tree Press
Bookshare Ireland will continue to work with other Irish publishers to increase Irish content available to readers.
Who is it for?
The platform will help those with:
- Visual impairment
- Any physical limitation in holding a printed book or text
Currently just 1.8% of the student population has a visual impairment, according to Chris White the CEO of NCBI. He hopes Bookshare.ie will lead to an increase in the number of students with a visual impairment attending third level education.
Rosie Bissett is CEO of the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. She says it will empower students with dyslexia and allow them to reach their potential. One in ten people have some form of dyslexia.
How do students access the service?
Students can register for the new service by signing up at Bookshare.ie. It is open to all universities, colleges and further education settings.
What kind of difference will it make?
Aoife Watson is a recent graduate from NUI Maynooth with sight loss.
“Having Bookshare.ie will now revolutionise a student with visual impairment’s experience of 3rd level, as being able to access a book at the same time as your classmates is essential to creating an inclusive experience.” she says.
“I know if I had access to the books I needed when I needed them, I would have achieved a higher overall mark in my degree.” she adds.
She says she thinks she will return to education to do a masters sooner than planned because of Bookshare Ireland.
Read more about print disabilities: