Bookshare, BSA open a new chapter

For some boys, reading doesn’t come easy. And that makes the Boy Scouts of America a challenging place. The Boy Scout Handbook. Merit Badge pamphlets. BSA training manuals. Daunting prospects for boys with print disabilities.

Fortunately, the BSA has some great resources for those Scouts.

Starting with Bookshare. This summer, the BSA signed a memorandum of understanding that cements a partnership aimed at improving the Scouting experience for boys and girls with print disabilities.

Bookshare’s cool online library (bookshare.org) allows Scouts in your pack, troop, team, or crew to “listen to books, see words and hear them read as they are highlighted on a screen, read in Braille, and much more.”

The best part? It’s free for U.S. students with a qualified print disability (visual impairment, a physical disability, or a learning or reading disability).

For non-students or students who don’t qualify, there’s a $25 setup fee and $50 per year charge. But if you use the promo code SCOUTS, Bookshare will waive the $25 setup fee.

Once logged in, users can view or listen to Scouting materials on desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones, MP3 players, and assistive technology devices. Check out this PDF for complete details about the program.

I should point out that providing resources for Scouts with print disabilities is nothing new for the BSA. The organization has created Braille and large-print versions of its publications for years.

Nearly 40 publications — all current — are available on the site right now, and more will be added over the next six to nine months. The goal, I’m told, is to keep adding publications until the complete Merit Badge Series and most commonly used manuals become available.

The site features non-Scout materials, too, including children’s books and literature, newspapers, magazines, and textbooks for grade school and college.

Scouts with print disabilities don’t have to feel alone while slogging through all that material. Direct those Scouts — and their parents — to Bookshare today.

(Related post: What do you do when a Scout can’t read his handbook?)
Painting by Joseph Csatari.
About Bryan Wendell 2818 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.