Unite for Literacy: Free Digital Picture Books

Featured Image: 
Screenshot of Unite for Literacy bookshelf.

Unite for Literacy has a mission: to provide a world where all children have access to an abundance of books that celebrate their languages and cultures and cultivate a life-long love of reading. Unite for Literacy provides engaging digital picture books complete with audio narration options in a variety of languages.  These books are available on the Unite for Literacy bookshelf, a website which makes the digital book available on any device - computer, tablet or smartphone.  Search for books by categories or by titles.

Unite for Literacy digital picture book with ASL video clip below the book.Teacher Hint: Each book has narration options in various languages.  Teachers/users may select their preferred language and may select more than one language at a time.  This is a great feature for ESL students (English as a Second Language), as they can select to play each page in first their native language and then English or vice versa.  Students who have some understanding of English may choose to select the English narration for most pages and only select their native language when they come across a word or concept that is not familiar.  Some books have the option of American Sign Language; when selected, these books have video clips of a person signing current page of the book.  Selecting the narration options from the bookshelf will display all the books available in that language.

Low Vision Accessibility

Students with low vision enjoy the beautiful images, large font text and non-visually clutter pages.  Students can chose to read the text themselves or press the audio button to listen to the appealing narration.

Screen Reader Accessibility

Currently, the Unite for Literacy website and each page (text on the page and narration button) is accessible with a screen reader, such as VoiceOver on the iPad.  A refreshable braille display can be used to access the text on each page.  However, the next page button is not labeled and a screen reader cannot find the button and cannot activate the button in order to turn the page.  The only option is to turn off the screen reader to turn the page, making the books inaccessible to students who rely on screen readers.  The images do not have alt tag descriptions; screen readers only state, "Book, image".  Adding appropriate alt tags to each image would make the images accessible for students with severe vision loss and/or blindness.  As "picture books" geared for young readers, the images on the pages are very important and should be accessible for all students.

Summary

Unite for Literacy provides wonderful digital picture books on topics that reach students from different cultures, backgrounds and languages.  These books are currently accessible for students who are low vision, including students with low vision who are also deaf.  Unfortunately, currently these books are not accessible for students who rely on screen readers. 

Comments