Friday, 16 September 2016

Next stop... lovely Lincoln!

By Caroline Walker, Reading Services Assistant RNIB Bookshare

We went east for our next training day as Caroline and Ian traveled to Lincoln to meet with Lincolnshire Sensory Education Support Service and other locally invited schools.

We had a very grand venue at the Council Chambers in their County Offices, I promise that neither Ian nor Caroline sat in the really posh seats at the front!!

A grand wood panelled Council Chambers

We were a large group of 25, and everyone had brought laptops so that they could join in and navigate around the site with us, trying out the new features on the site. Some were regular users of RNIB Bookshare, others new to the site.

What did we talk about?

We talked about the copyright legislation and qualifying print disabilities, new accounts for learners or member accounts including the free web reading tool. We searched and downloaded books and talked about requesting books in how we are working with publishers.

Using and creating structured word documents, and using different file formats was a really useful discussion and especially how easy it is to convert DAISY files into MS Word.

We then looked at how staff and learners can use the site and resources with their devices, ie iPads, Kindles and various tools such as the Kindle app with RNIB Bookshare files.

Ian leading the group in training

How does RNIB Bookshare affect your learners?

“Promotes independence”
“it will be a massive support for them at school and at home”
“To be able to read more interesting books”

How does RNIB Bookshare affect how you work?

“Greater ability to promote independence and more accessibility to the curriculum for our SEN students”
“it saves me time”
“makes adaptations quicker and easier to use”
“reduces the need for me to type everything by hand”

What did you like most about the training?

“Being able to chat face to face”
“how to convert DAISY file to a Word document”
“How things were illustrated as they were being spoken about so it became easy to follow.” 
We had some really positive comments about how everyone felt about the afternoons training and how they will now be able to use RNIB Bookshare so much more effectively.

Thanks for having us Lincolnshire Sensory Support team and friends! Next time I visit Lincoln, I really hope to see more of your beautiful city!
A view of Lincoln with the Cathedral on the skyline

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Grand day at Kings College London!

By Caroline Walker, Reading Services Assistant RNIB Bookshare

Sarah and Caroline were on their travels again as they took a train down to London to meet RNIB Bookshare customers from a number of London based universities, kindly hosted at Kings College London. We met at the Library in the Franklin-Wilkins Building on the Waterloo Campus.

Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus

Who was there?

We met with Disability officers and Library Staff from  Kings College London, City University, London School of EconomicsGoldsmiths (University of London) and the University of Westminster. It was a great opportunity to find out how these busy institutions are using RNIB Bookshare and to help them get the most of our using our service.

We talked about…

What did everyone have to say about RNIB Bookshare?

It was great to hear that everyone found the practical aspects of the day really useful. Here’s what everyone said….
‘Its brilliant! and the revamped site has made it (my work) easier’

How will it affect your learners?

‘It will speed up access to course and research materials where previously it was necessary to go directly to publishers’ 
 ‘Gives them more autonomy’
 ‘Really useful to have a variety of download and options’

How will it affect how you work?

‘Save time eg reducing amount of time allocated to scanning materials to produce alternative formats' 
 ‘I would like to start using it, particularly as I help to create reading lists at work.’
 ‘has the potential to improve my work providing the publishers cooperate.’

Thanks again to Kings College University for hosting us. Good luck everyone, and keep up the great work your doing in providing great accessible resources to your print disabled learners!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A day at the University of Nottingham

By Sarah Bennett, Reading Services Assistant, RNIB Bookshare

The journey

Whilst planning my journey times for the day, I noticed that the route to the university from the train station ran mainly alongside Nottingham Canal, so I booked myself on an early train to take in the sights en route.
Nottingham Canal path

Nottingham Canal path
Six miles later, I met up with accessibility support staff and librarians from both Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham.

We met in a really well equipped workshop in the Hallward Library, a fabulous venue which owing to the summer holiday was pleasantly quiet. 

The training

There were seven attendees, some of whom had previously used the RNIB Bookshare service and some who were in new roles, so it was perfect timing to tell them about the service we offer to help them and their print disabled students.

We talked about:

The newest feature on RNIB Bookshare - shared reading lists

A new feature, launched just last week, is the ability to share reading lists.  This functionality allows Sponsors (staff) to share their reading lists with other Sponsors within the same account. You can create a reading list to be shared and also edit an already existing reading list to share it among Sponsors. 
The Keighton Auditorium, The Mathematical Sciences Building

The feedback

Most useful: 
  • "Practical, hands-on examples to play with"
  • "Learning how to search for books and store records of them in reading lists".
Thank you to the Nottingham crew. Please remember you can call us anytime on  0300 303 8313  

Friday, 26 August 2016

Press Release: Oxford University Press teams up with RNIB

Oxford University Press teams up with RNIB to provide accessible school books for UK learners with sight loss or dyslexia

Students with sight loss or dyslexia can now access a wider range of school resources thanks to an enhanced collaboration between Oxford University Press (OUP) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

OUP, which is a department of the University of Oxford, and the UK’s leading schools publisher, has provided RNIB Bookshare with UK textbooks since 2012. The new agreement builds on OUP’s commitment to quickly and easily maketheir textbooks available to print disabled learners through the RNIB Bookshare service.

RNIB Bookshare (previously known as Load2Learn) allows learners who cannot read standard print, including those with dyslexia or who are blind or partially sighted, to read the same books, at the same time as their classmates.

The service is completely free and is open to all educators enabling them to download textbooks and accessible images to meet their students’ needs.

Richard Hodson, Sales, Marketing, and Operations Director for OUP’s education division, said: “Ensuring our titles are available to the widest possible audience is absolutely key to our educational mission, and we are proud that our schools resources are available through RNIB’s excellent service.”

Alison Long, Senior Manager Children, Young People and Employment at RNIB, said:
“We’re delighted that our new agreement with OUP has enabled us to increase the number of their titles on RNIB Bookshare. We’ve already helped thousands of students throughout the UK to access books that meet their needs, and OUP’s high quality educational publishing is a fantastic addition.”

Schools looking to sign up to RNIB Bookshare should go to


For further information, please contact Dan Selinger, Head of Communications, Oxford Education, at Oxford University Press on or +44 1865 355037 

Notes to editor 

About Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press (OUP) is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world's largest university press with the widest global presence. It currently publishes thousands of new publications a year, has offices in around fifty countries, and employs nearly 7,000 people worldwide. It has become familiar to millions through a diverse publishing programme that includes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, bibles, music, school and college resources, children's books, materials for teaching English as a foreign language, business books, dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals.

About RNIB

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss - that's almost 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A training day at Seaborne Library, University of Chester

By Sarah Bennett, Reading Services Assistant, RNIB Bookshare

Seaborne Library

University of Chester logo
Yesterday (26 July), Caroline and I met up in historic Chester at the University’s Seaborne Library to talk to the library team about the RNIB Bookshare service.

We were given a tour around the library which has recently been extended and refurbished to an amazingly high standard.  

The training

We spent the day with four members of the Library and Information Service (LIS) team talking about how they could best use the RNIB Bookshare service to help the nine students with sight loss they currently support.  One of the librarians, who is also responsible for accessible files was already familiar with the service.

We talked about 

Due to Wi-Fi connection restrictions within the university it wasn't possible to demonstrate using the
Seaborne Library, University of Chester
files on the iPad and the various apps which could work well for the students they are supporting but we did instead talk through the options:

The feedback

"I feel confident in using and teaching this system to others now"

"I will definitely be incorporating this into our workflow"

Most useful

  • Practical demonstration
  • Converting book formats into Word documents
Thank you to the LIS team for a fabulous training session and lovely lunch.  
Please remember that you can call us on 0300 303 8313 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Training day at De Montfort University Library

By Caroline Walker, Reading Services Assistant RNIB Bookshare

On Thursday, 1 July Ian and I met in Leicester to visit DeMontfort University library to talk to them about how they will roll out the use of RNIB Bookshare among the disability library team to support the 50 to 60 students with sight loss and the many dyslexic students that study there.
De Montfort University  Library

The training

Ian and I worked with seven members of the Library disability team who wanted to look at using RNIB Bookshare to deliver accessible resources to their print impaired students. Although having looked over the site and downloaded resources, the team as a whole had not looked at how it would be rolled out for use across the University's library. It was therefore a great time to visit them to help them think through the issues and consider how the site can best work for them now and in the future.

We talked about …

As always it was great to see what the group liked about the site, and how they could see it working for them and their students.

Most useful ...

  •  “'Read now’ function impressive”
  •   “Finding out about DAISY files, as they are very versatile”
  •   “Opportunity to think about different levels of membership”
  •   “Hands on trying it out”

The feedback

It was a very positive day, and we all learned a lot about the site and how Higher education Institutions (HEI's) can develop using it.

We were even asked how much it cost for the University's membership, and they were astounded when we said it was a free service to UK educational organisations, supported sponsorship and donations via RNIB’s Fundraising team.

“Looking forward to seeing this great project moving forward and expanding with more titles on HE (Higher education) level”

“Very friendly and professional trainers”

“Very clear training delivery, wide ranging”

Thanks to De Montfort University for a great welcome from all your staff (including a very friendly and helpful car park attendant), a wonderful lunch and your positivity to our great service!

Friday, 8 July 2016

A trip to Chester

By Caroline Walker, Reading Services Assistant RNIB Bookshare

Dorin Park School and Specialist SEN College is a special school in Chester and was the venue for my latest RNIB Bookshare training event on Wednesday, 6 July 2016.

We met in their Community Resource Centre. The school was a lovely, pleasant venue and was only a short distance from the famous Chester Zoo! But no monkeying around for me today at the zoo.  

A cheeky chimp from  Chester Zoo!

The training

I was invited by the Sensory Support team for Cheshire West and Chester and had been asked to talk to a group of Teaching Assistants from schools across the area about RNIB Bookshare. There were 19 attendees from 11 schools and sensory support team staff. Not many of them were using RNIB Bookshare or had heard about us, so it was great to tell them about the difference we can make to their work and also the benefits to their print disabled learners.

We talked about …

What was really valuable to the group was that once we had downloaded a title, we looked at how it can be quickly and easily modified from DAISY to Word formats. We talked about what structured Word files are, and why they are important for print impaired users, access technology users and for further modification for individual learner's needs.

Accessible images

I was also asked to talk about accessible images to the group. We talked about why they are important, particularly in studying the curriculum, some basic design principles and how to support their use. Of course, I was also able to signpost them to over 3,000 accessible images that can be accessed through RNIB Bookshare!
Some of our accessible curriculum images - Biology, Geography and Chemistry

The feedback

It was a great afternoon, and there was a lot of very positive feedback. 
"Amazing that children and parents can get involved with RNIB Bookshare"
"I struggle to adapt a lot of images, mainly maps. This will make my job a lot easier."

Most useful ...

"Such a lot to take on board, need to have a go!"
I look forward to seeing lots of Cheshire West and Chester schools join us on RNIB Bookshare, and to helping you all on your RNIB Bookshare journey. Next time I might get to the zoo too!

Image result for chester zoo waving animal
A waving bear!