Accessing Digital Books

My child/student needs textbooks in digital format: how do I get them?

“I am a teacher and about half my class choose to lug a heavy book in and out everyday rather than download the textbook for use at home. This indicates how difficult the process is.” - Mary, Galway.

 Unfortunately, Mary’s experience resonates with hundreds of teachers and parents across Ireland. 

Even before the academic year ends, parents and teachers of children with learning difficulties are increasingly worried about obtaining textbooks in digital formats for the next year. This is because of the lack of a central repository of accessible textbooks for primary and post-primary students. The task often becomes complex as parents, teachers and schools are expected to contact different publishers individually, with each having their own process to request for books.

Even after a book is made available, their different formats, software compatibility and features do not always match the accessibility requirements of children who use them. 

As a result, parents often feel frustrated and lost about how to proceed. To help parents deal with the challenge of obtaining and using digital books, we have outlined below,

  • formats in which books are available (e.g. PDFs, e-books, etc.) from different publishers and organisations for primary and post-primary

  • how you can get them

  • technology required to use them

Book Publishers - Accessing Digital Books

CJ Fallon
 

CJ Fallon

For: Primary school

Format: E-book

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Technology required:

  • CJFallon app

  • On iPad, app works with in-built voice recognition feature and text-to-speech apps.

  • On tablets and laptop, app works with text-to-speech software.

Process:

Digital copies can be requested by submitting the following details to ebooks@cjfallon.ie 

  1. Students Name 

  2. Email Address 

  3. School Name & Address 

  4. List of titles required 

  5. Scan of report (preferred, not mandatory)

Prim-Ed
 

Prim-Ed

For: Primary (provides workbooks only, not textbooks)

Format: E-book

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Technology required: PDFs can be used with text-to-speech software. 

Process: School or teacher needs to fill in this form and send it to sara@prim-ed.com

Folens
 

Folens

For: Primary & post-primary

Format: PDF

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Note: Their new app is currently under construction. It may work with iPad or tablet.

Technology required: PDFs can be read using  text-to-speech software.

Process: Parents and teachers can email this completed form to support@folens.ie to request for PDFs. 

Gill Education
 

Gill Education

For: Primary & post-primary

Format: PDF, E-book

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Technology required: PDFs are compatible with most  text-to-speech software, including Read&Write Gold, Dragon Naturally Speaking and ClaroRead.

E-books can be used through GillExplore e-Book app or online. E-books are not read aloud and cannot be used with  text-to-speech software.

Process:

PDFs - Free for primary and post-primary students using a read-aloud software or other assistive technologies. Can be requested by submitting the following documents to Sarah McCoy, Production Department, Gill Education, Hume Avenue, Park West, D12 YV96 or emailing productionassistant@gill.ie 

  1. Copy of medical certificate or psychologist’s report confirming your child’s condition. 

  2. Signed copy of 'Gill Education Agreement Template for Parents'. Mention titles required on the back of the form. 

E-books - Available only for post-primary, not primary. Available free of charge. Activation code comes free with books purchased from 2015 onwards. For titles published in 2014 or earlier, free e-book code can be obtained by emailing copy of medical certificate or psychologist’s report confirming your child’s condition to digitalsupport@gill.ie

  1. To use the e-book, you need to first register or sign in with your Gill account.

  2. You can then activate the e-book here

Educate.ie
 

Educate.ie

For: Primary & post-primary

Format: PDF, E-book

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Technology required:

  • For primary only PDFs are available. They are compatible with text-to-speech software like Read & Write Gold.

  • For post-primary, PDFs and e-books are available. These work with the company’s app and online learning platform. The app, however, does not have text-to-speech  function.

Process:

  1. Parents who have purchased printed textbooks can request for their PDF version free of charge by emailing this completed form to sean@educate.ie 

  2. Teachers can request flipbooks for primary by emailing Sean Towmey at sean@educate.ie 

  3. E-book licences are available for purchase on Educate.ie shop site. Also, all post-primary printed textbooks come with printed redeem codes for e-books which are included free with the printed book.

Edco
 

Edco

For: Primary & post-primary

Format: E-book

Compatible devices: Desktop/Laptop, Tablet, iPad

Technology required:

  • Edco Learning platform

  • The platform offers the following features -  text-to-speech, highlighting, ability to type on the book, Spotlight (this darkens out all but the paragraph being read)

Process:

  1. Free e-book code is on the inside front cover of most post-primary printed textbooks. If a code is not present or if you need books for primary, this form needs to be completed sent to the address therein.

  2. Edco Learning will then create an account for the student with access to any required Edco e-books.

National Council for the Blind Ireland
 

National Council for the Blind Ireland

In addition to book publishers, National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) also provides access to books that secondary students need in the areas of literature and reading. 

This is done via Bookshare, an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. It hosts over 600,000 accessible titles, a vast amount of which are used by Irish students in higher education. In Ireland, Bookshare is available to students and individuals with vision impairment, or Dyslexia.

Bookshare is available via desktop or app. Searching and downloading books via Bookshare is  simple and when a title is selected, the student gets a choice of accessible formats per title (MP3, PDF, Word, BRF, DAISY, DAISY with images).
To find out more about how you can get access to Bookshare, you can contact Lina Kouzi in NCBI on lina.kouzi@ncbi.ie

Using Digital Books: Built-in Accessibility, Accessibility Software and Different Devices

As outlined above, some PDFs or e-books come with a few accessibility features whereas others require using in-built accessibility features of tablets, iPads or laptops and yet others work using external text-to-speech software (e.g. Read & Write).

I hope you have found the information on getting digital copies of textbooks useful. Of course, feel free to share this with any parents or teachers that might find it useful.