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 amongst 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, 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 50-60 students with sight loss and the many dyslexic students that study there.

De Montfort University  Library

The training

Ian and I worked with 7 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 Universities 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 users can develop using it.

We were even asked how much it cost for the universities membership, and they were astounded when we said it was a free service to UK education users, supported by funding raised by RNIB giving.

“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 Bookshare. There were 19 attendees from 11 schools and Sensory support team staff. Not many of them were using 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 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 Bookshare journey, and next time I might get to the zoo too!!

Image result for chester zoo waving animal
A waving bear!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

A training session with Hertfordshire Low Incident Team

By Sarah Bennett, Reading Services Assistant RNIB Bookshare

The Low Incident Team have regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) days at Hertfordshire Development Centre and  I was invited to come and give a training session on the new RNIB Bookshare website as part of their days schedule.

I met up with my team colleague Ian, who was helping with the session and who'd arrived by train from our Peterborough office.

We had a very warm welcome with coffee from Jackie who had organised the day.  The training room was perfect and had an integrated projector, Wi-Fi, speakers and plenty of room to allow me to get around everyone to help on their laptops.

The training

We had a group of 21 - a mixture of Qualified Teacher of learners with Vision Impairment (QTVIs), support staff and school based staff.  In the main they support braillists and giant print pupils, so the training was tailored to focus on how to download the various file formats in order to create modified hard copies for the learners they support.

The majority of attendees were familiar with RNIB Bookshares predecessor, Load2Learn, and were therefore keen to learn how to use the new website so that they felt confident teaching others whilst visiting schools.

Topics we covered:

Feedback from the team

  • Thank you for comprehensive and informative training.
  • The help guides are really useful.
  • Most useful hands-on experience of navigating the website.

The consensus was that learning through a hands-on session was most useful, alongside the hand-outs.

Thank you Jackie and team for your time and patience! Please remember that you can call us on 0300 303 8313.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Leeds training day - 21 June 2016

By Jennie Short, RNIB Bookshare Product Manager

The train journey

Due to the nursery and school run I've been dropped at the station half an hour early, it's 7.20am and I'm in need of a strong coffee after my youngest boy decided to wake up at silly o'clock! Whilst waiting for the train I'm greeted by a jolly trio from Halls and my bag is now stocked with packets of sugar free cough sweets.

I met Ian on the platform and we're now on the train heading to Leeds. I've an 8.30am teleconference, I hope my phone signal stays strong and doesn't keep booting me out of the call. Ian's chilling with his book.

Who's Ian?

Ian Green is the newest member of the RNIB Bookshare team. It was his first day yesterday (22 June) but he's been at RNIB for quite a while, he doesn't like to say how long so lets just say it's over 25 years!

Ian's moved across from Audio Production where he worked for eight years. He brings skills and experience of using audio production tools including SADIE, Dolphin Easy Publisher, Adobe Audition and Wavelab. Ian's previous roles within RNIB saw him work in our Braille Library, on the Helpline and in our Membership team giving him a great customer service background.

Ian enthusiastically jumped straight into his new role yesterday, learning how to get RNIB Bookshare titles onto a Victor Reader Stream DAISY Player and how to create structured Word files using the DAISY files in the collection, ready to present these elements of the session today.

The training

We had 13 attendees from four organisations; RNIB and University of Leeds Transcription Centre, University of Leeds (Library), Fitzwilliam Primary School, Calderale Specialist Inclusion Service VI Team and the Wakefield Children's Sensory Impairment Team. Due to Wi-Fi connection restrictions within the university it wasn't possible to get everyone online. We tried, but full connection for all attendees would have incurred a charge from the University.

Most attendees have been service users for a good number of years and were keen to learn more about how to use the new website.

We covered ...
  • reasons behind the change in site from Load2Learn to RNIB Bookshare and the benefits this brings for staff, learners and RNIB
  • setting up the organisation's primary contact account
  • the help articles on the Help Centre, showing our most frequently asked questions on the Help Centre homepage
  • DAISY to Word, to get a structured Word file that can be modified to the individual learner's needs
  • an update on the RNIB and O2 iPad trial

I learnt that ...
  • more information on how to use books in different apps is required 
  • we need a better understanding of how EPUB file formatting pulls through into the various download formats and identifying which files require some enhancement. In particular looking at the Oxford Reading Tree titles.
The good news is that these are two areas the team are currently working on.

Also ...
  • Jane informed us that you can chose to open books in VoiceDream from Safari on an iPad - so we'll be having a play with that.
My most amazing moment of learning was ...
  • discovering that if you complete a book request form for a title that is already on the site, the book record will be listed on the request confirmation page, allowing you to access the book straight away (and not submit the request). My response to this discovery was a very happy "well I didn't know it did that!". A great feature that ensures you find it in the collection and that saves everyone time.
Items for the RNIB Bookshare development wish list ...
  • book request form to automatically populate the book data once the ISBN's been entered
  • add authors to the book available to download email template
  • include page numbers of the original book in the EPUB

Thanks for a great day everyone I hope you enjoyed it and don't forget you can contact the RNIB Bookshare team (8.30am to 5.30pm most week days) for support, we're here to help you get the most out of the site. Apologies for the dark photograph, not my best work!

Leeds training day attendees


Most useful to have an explanation of how to use the site and the different views for different users. Thank you very much, it was very useful.
It was most useful to have a demonstration of the Victor Reader Stream, the DAISY to Word guidance and using files on an iPad. Very helpful and informative with great speakers.
Everything was helpful and it has given me some ideas to help with other tasks. It was most useful be navigated through the site.
A very useful introduction to the site. It certainly increased my knowledge of the site itself but I'll need to use it to know about the necessary skills.
Information on accessing Word files through DAISY was really useful as this is an area we have really been struggling with. It was interesting to hear about the workings of the Victor Reader Stream.
It was most useful to learn about the DAISY to Word conversion. The new website is much better than the old one.
It was most useful to learn about the different device options. A brilliant session.