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Never Leave Home Without Your Books: Bookshare Read2Go for iOS

January 3, 2012 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In this approximately 27-minute podcast, Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate finding, downloading and reading with Bookshare’s Read2Go iOS app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

We demonstrate reading with Read2Go’s built-in text-to-speech voices and VoiceOver while explaining the process in our typical step-by-step format.

Please feel free to give us your feedback in the comments. What do you like? How could we make the show better? What topics would you like us to cover on future shows?

Listen or Pause – Read2Go Demonstration

Download – Read2Go Demonstration

Categories: Bookshare, iPhone, podcast

April 17 Conference Call for Blind Students: Making Bookshare Work for You!

April 14, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Bookshare is an online digital library that is free for students in the United States.

High school, college, and graduate students all find the collection to be an indispensible resource when it comes to finding the books they need for schoolwork and for pleasure reading.

Join the conversation with Allison Hilliker, Bookshare Collection Development Associate and Cherie Miller, Bookshare’s University Program Manager. We will be taking your questions live throughout the discussion. There is no need to pre-register for the event, just call in and join us.

  • April 17, 2011, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm PST
  • Phone number to call: 866-210-1669.
  • Pass code: 6567672

During this discussion you will learn:

  • What Bookshare is and how you can become a member
  • How Bookshare can make your school work and pleasure reading much easier
  • About our new Read2Go app; an app specifically designed for Apple iOS that will allow for quick download and easy reading of Bookshare books on the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone
  • How to use Bookshare most efficiently and effectively with your notetaker or digital book player.

We look forward to talking with you on April 17!

Categories: Bookshare

Seeking Qualified Blind People to Apply for Bookshare Job Openings

February 15, 2011 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Benetech is looking to fill four Bookshare positions with highly-qualified professionals who know how to lead teams, manage projects, plan products, write grant proposals and much more.

If you’re blind and you believe you’ve got what it takes, please check out these position postings and apply as soon as possible.

Through the employment of a representative number of blind people and others with print-reading disabilities in decision-making positions, we can restore the heart of Bookshare and guide it to a more accessible, responsive future. Let’s all get out there and fill the inboxes of Benetech’s human-resources team with awesome cover letters and resumes that will get their attention and get our people in the door!

Response to David Pogue: Are Efforts to Acquire Accessibility by the Blind Being Lumped in with Piracy?

May 25, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

May 25, 2008

Dear Mr. Pogue,

It is really disappointing to see blind people mentioned categorically in a negative light through your article entitled Can e-Publishing Overcome Copyright Concerns? in the New York Times. Unless there have been piracy convictions in a court of law, you have no absolute proof that those two blind people to whom you provided electronic copies of your books were the same ones who posted the illegal copies two days later. As people who lack physical eye sight, or who’s sight is extremely limited, we endure serious information accessibility challenges. This circumstance is completely beyond our control. Despite current technologies, we probably have access to easily 10 percent or less of the printed material you enjoy as a fully sighted person.

There are protected ways in which you may provide your books in an accessible format, one of which is Bookshare at You could have also asked for some reasonable proof of disability before sending your books to complete strangers in an unprotected format. Please consider dawning a blindfold and a free screen reader like System Access to Go ( and experiencing the world our way for a few hours, then consider clarifying your position toward blind and visually impaired people and the accessibility obstacles we face.

I hope you will consider making this right, so that your words don’t negatively impact our abilities to acquire an education and avail ourselves of employment opportunities through further worsening of the bleak inaccessibility we continue to encounter on a daily basis.

Best regards,

Darrell Shandrow

Accessibility Evangelist

Reminder of Friends of Bookshare Town Meeting Tonight

May 6, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Responding to a number of inquiries, we are pleased to announce that next
Tuesday, May 6, we will hold a "Town Meeting" to discuss some programming
ideas for our Tuesday evening sessions. We encourage all of you to seriously
consider participating in the discussion.

We are especially interested in finding quality presenters of topics useful
to those interested in all aspects of reading. For example, do you know a
leader in the book publishing industry, an active author you've met on a
book signing tour or exchanged correspondence, a university or community
college teacher who would share his/her expertise and knowledge of the books
generally or specific genre, a career coach in creative writing , a product
vendor of technology of special use and interest to Bookshare members and
volunteers, or other similar professionals that share our love of books? We
promise all your ideas will be seriously considered.

We will meet in the Friends of Bookshare Community Room at 5:30 p.m.
Pacific, 6:30 p.m. Mountain, 7:30 p.m. Central, and 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Just
point your browser to:

Then, enter your name, and tab to the Log In button. No password required.

Thanks much for your willingness to improve the Friends of Bookshare

Program Committee

Categories: Benetech, Bookshare

Bookshare Volunteer Coordinator Position: Putting the Rumor Mill to Rest

May 4, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In January of this year, I learned of an opening at Benetech to fill a position as volunteer coordinator for the Bookshare project. Of course, since Bookshare is an initiative I strongly support and have featured several times in these pages over the past three and a half years, I immediately applied for consideration. Six weeks later, I was contacted, and a seven week hiring process ensued. There were ten telephone interviews with others on the Bookshare team who would have been my co-workers. On April 16, I was invited to the Benetech offices to meet everyone in person for further interviews as the next step in the process. All seemed to go very well and it was certainly an honor to meet and put faces to the names of all the staff behind my favorite blind community project. After my return home that night, it was simply a matter of waiting as feedback was collected from everyone who interviewed me, the hiring process moved forward and Jim Fruchterman made the final decision. Near the end of the process, several rumors started to be passed around Twitter and I received several e-mail and MSN (Windows Live) Messenger communications congratulating me for landing the job before I had heard any official word from Benetech!

Ever since Bookshare got started back in February of 2002, I had wondered how I could participate in a more official, paid capacity beyond my volunteer efforts as a book validator. This volunteer coordinator position was an excellent fit for my hard and soft skills, and I still believe it would have been the most compatible for the project as well. As an accessibility evangelist, I have always wanted to take a paying, action oriented position with an organization I felt was doing real work to fulfill our hopes and dreams for a brighter, more accessible future. This position represented for me and for Benetech a fantastic opportunity to reach even higher levels of book accessibility and an increased standing of the entire project inside and outside the connected online community of people with print reading disabilities. My wish to be granted this opportunity to serve my blind brothers and sisters was second place in my life only to that April 1, 2005 date when I proposed marriage to Karen!

On Friday, May 2, I finally received the horribly disappointing telephone call from Lisa Friendly, Director of Bookshare Operations, telling me that I was not selected. I came in “second” to a sighted lady with more “volunteer management” experience. Obviously, I feel the decision against me is a huge let down not only for me but for the entire community served by Bookshare. Those of you who know me or have been readers of Blind Access Journal for awhile will be keenly aware of my position that any organization, or project within an organization, that serves the blind and visually impaired ought to be filled with qualified employees from our population at all levels of influence and leadership. Bringing me on board would have represented an excellent chance for Jim, Lisa and the rest of the Bookshare management team to have further demonstrated to the world the true innovation of the Bookshare project, that of the fully sighted working in concert with those with print disabilities to enhance our accessibility to the information around us, especially as compared with the institutional nature of most other organizations in our field. I was the right man for this job!

Despite everything written thus far, I continue to believe that Bookshare is one of the best initiatives currently going in the blind community. I urge anyone who is eligible to sign up for Bookshare, giving you access to more than 37,500 books in all genres. I also ask everyone, whether or not you have a print reading disability, to volunteer your effort and time to the cause. You may scan and submit new books to the collection, or validate (correct formatting and scanning errors) books already submitted as they are processed toward ultimate availability to Bookshare subscribers. Even in light of the hurt caused by this rejection, my own book validation efforts continue with gusto. Each newly scanned and validated addition to the Bookshare collection brings us one tiny step closer to the dream of full accessibility to all that is already made available to the sighted in the wonderful world of books.

I wish all the best to the newly appointed Bookshare volunteer coordinator. She has a lot of work on her plate right from the start. Expectations from this volunteer community are quite high to provide some much needed direction and fill some long-standing gaps. I trust that all of us in the Bookshare subscriber base and volunteer teams will do everything we can to ensure that our needs are met and that the project moves forward in an effective manner that works not only for the Department of Education grant but for the best interests of the entire community.

Categories: Benetech, Bookshare, opinion