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Bookshare Tech Guide
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Last Updated: May 11, 2023

What is Bookshare?

Bookshare is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. They have over 500,000 titles in their collection including popular books in the mainstream as well as textbooks.

How does it work?

There are two types of accounts: Organizational and Individual. Hyde Park Day School has an Organizational account. Teachers can share books with their students through this account.

The Individual account is set up and managed by the parent or student (depending on the situation). The only way a student can access books, save them to their Reading Lists and use the Read Now function is by having an Individual account.  It’s like your own personal library except you don’t have to worry about a return date! The Organizational and Individual accounts can be linked. Here is information that can help you make a choice

Books can also be downloaded in a variety of formats. At Hyde Park Day School, teachers download the digital books and then students use Capti to access them. Capti has many features that help students engage with the text, such as text to speech. (See Capti Tech Guide or visit their website at,. Kami is another great tool for reading digital books. (See Kami Tech Guide or visit their website at

Bookshare does have their own text reader called Bookshare Web Reader. It is a tool within Bookshare that students can use to read their book immediately. After they search for a book, there will be an option to Read Now.  This feature is only available when students have an Individual account.  

How to search for a book on Bookshare:

How to read a book from Bookshare with Snap&Read:

How to read a book from Bookshare with Capti:

How to read a book from Bookshare with Voice Dream Reader (iPad):

How does this help students?

These books are “accessible,” which means you can read the books in many different ways. Because the book is digital, text-to-speech tools can be used to have the book read to the student. This also means if a student has access to both the digital book and other assistive technology tools, they can interact with and take control over their learning by using the tools they need, when they need them to access and understand text at their developmental level.

What are the steps to using it at HPDS with an Individual account?

  1. Login to your account at
  2. Search for a book
  3. Read Now in the Bookshare Web Reader.

Bookshare also has many guides with screenshots.

Quickstart Guide for Students

For example - this one explains how to find books.

Here is a video tour of the Bookshare website.

Can I use Bookshare at home?

Absolutely! Here are some suggestions:

What if my child doesn’t like a digital voice? (prefers a human voice)

The most important value of having books in a digital format is that our students have access to content whereas before, their access was limited or non-existent. Text-to-speech gives our students this access. Technology keeps improving over time to sound like a more natural human voice. As it stands right now, text-to-speech provides more entry points to engage with the content. With practice, this tool can literally open up whole new worlds for our students. A human voice may be a preference, but a student may also comprehend the same or more with a computer narrated voice. provides a nice comparison between audiobooks and text-to-speech.

How much does it cost?

Bookshare is free for students with print disabilities up to age 18. The Bookshare Web Reader is a basic text-to-speech tool that enables the student to listen to the book immediately in the browser. The Bookshare Web Reader does require an Internet connection with a fairly good speed, but it is also free.

*Other reading tools to read the digital formats may have a cost. Hyde Park Day School subscribes to various tools to provide more enhanced features to help our students access digital text.

Does it work on other devices?

Yes. Bookshare has books available in a variety of formats that can be used by a variety of different reading tools on a variety of different devices. The trick is discovering which format works best with the tools the student needs and on the device s/he is working.

At HPDS, we mainly download books in a format that is accessible for students to use the tools like Capt or Kamii. Teachers are able to assign students work from these books using Google Classroom.  We have found the combination of these tools to be the easiest and best tools for all of our students to access.

If your student is transitioning to an iPad device, the tool we recommend is Voice Dream Reader.

What do I need to know when my student transitions?

What else is good to know about working with Bookshare?

Where can I find more information?

Bookshare -

Bookshare’s YouTube Channel -

Bookshare’s Twitter -

How is Bookshare different from Learning Ally?

Learning Ally is another resource for students with print disabilities. HPDS uses both Bookshare and Learning Ally. Access to Bookshare provides more options for teachers to teach our students how to use assistive technology that in turn, help our students transition. Access to Learning Ally provides a different format for our students to access and read books.

A few differences are the following:


Learning Ally

Amount of books in collection

Almost 1,000,000

Over 80,000

Access to textbooks

Has textbooks and can submit requests for textbooks



Digital - assistive technology can be used with it (text-to-speech, annotating, dictionary, etc.)

Or can use Bookshare’s Web Reader -

Audiobooks and some books in VOICEtext (highlighting words as they are spoken)

Voice formats

Voice provided by text-to-speech

Human voice


Free for students with print disabilities

Membership is $135 with eligibility requirements

Additional services

Some resources for parents

More variety of resources for parents

Differences between Bookshare and Learning Ally and the National Library Service (NLS) -

*Please note that technology and pricing is always changing. This document reflects the most recent known information as indicated by the Last Updated Date at the top of the page.