Bookshare Braille and Digital Formats

Bookshare is an online library of accessible ebooks for individuals who cannot read standard print.

The library has an extensive collection of titles that can be read via electronic text, audio and braille on more reading devices than any other library, including computers, tablets, smartphones, braille devices, assistive technology devices, and MP3 players.

Did you know that most English titles in Bookshare are available in both Unified English Braille (UEB) and English Braille American Edition (EBAE), making this the largest accessible collection in the world?

This blog post describes how to sign up for Bookshare, how to set your reading preference for BRF titles and where to find more information in the Braille Central section of Bookshare.

How Do You Become a Bookshare Member?

Thanks to funding from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education, Bookshare is free for all qualified U.S. students, of any age, who are blind, have low vision, a physical disability, or a learning disability, like dyslexia. Members can find educational and popular titles, including K-12 textbooks, classics, children’s literature, postsecondary journals, career materials, NY Times best sellers, periodicals and much more. 

Five Easy Tips to Sign Up for Bookshare

With an Individual Membership, you can manage your account, find books and read independently. Here are the steps:

  1. Review the qualifications page under Bookshare’s top menu - “Is Bookshare for Me?”
  2. Under “Get Started” select Sign Up and complete the Individual Membership online registration process. Schools and groups serving people with print disabilities can also sign up for an Organizational Membership. 
  1. Once your account is established, you will be required to submit Proof of Disability through one of many convenient options, such as fax or email. Bookshare membership will send you a confirmation email upon receipt of the form.
  1. To find the best reading tools or apps for you, explore finding and reading books and Bookshare’s compatible reading tools.
  1. When you first log in with your username and password, you will be directed to your “My Bookshare” page to view account history and get helpful training links.

What is BRF?

BRF (Braille Ready Format) is an electronic text file that is transcribed into braille. You will need specialized software or hardware that can open and read BRF files. Note that most devices will not recognize BRF automatically. Most users either open the BRF file in a software program, like Duxbury, which allows them to view, edit, or emboss the book, or transfer the file to a braille note taker. If a book is available in BRF in Bookshare, the BRF option will be shown in the file format dropdown list.

Your Reading Preferences for BRF Titles

You may already have built-in settings that can help you decide which preferences work best for you, but before you download a BRF file, Bookshare recommends setting up your download preferences from your reading device.

To set your preferences, log into Bookshare and go to "My Bookshare,” then “My Account.” From there, select “Edit Preferences,” where you will find two BRF options.

Subscribe to the Bookshare Blog and New Discussion Forums

As a member, you will also want to keep abreast of accessibility news and all the great events happening at Bookshare, subscribe to the blog and check out the new online discussion forums

For a great start to learning more about Bookshare from a member’s perspective, you might like to read Jessica McDowell’s latest post on the Paths to Technology blog: Open Bookshare book on iPad in iBooks - EPUB Beta feature.

Happy Reading with Bookshare!