Remember the fun of going to the library and picking out books when you were a kid, or spending a relaxing afternoon browsing your favorite bookstore? I don’t. I’ve been legally blind since birth; my vision cannot be corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery. As much as I loved printed books, they never really loved me back. Trips to the bookstore and library involved finding the large print section, full of books about aging and a plethora of Danielle Steele novels….and not much else.
Until the advent of eBooks, reading for pleasure was tricky, at best. Reading for school was downright miserable. Sometimes large print textbooks were available, but often they were not. I’d exhaust my eyes and do my best to complete my reading assignments and homework, but learning from print books was a painful, and oftentimes, embarrassing experience. I relied on bulky CCTV magnifiers in library basements and an unhealthy amount of eyestrain to make it through high school and college. Then everything changed.
I often tell people that eBooks changed my life. It seems hyperbolic, I know, but it’s true for me, and many thousands of other people with low vision. eBooks offered me the freedom to read what I want, when I want. Most importantly, ebooks offered me the ability to learn on my terms, with ease and without embarrassment. In fact, when I started my MBA in 2010, I was thrilled to find that I could buy 100% of my textbooks in digital format through VitalSource. I read when and where I wanted, scaling to larger font or using Text to Speech with ease. No more library basements for me.
I am proud to work at VitalSource; proud to be part of a team that is leveling the playing field for students of all abilities with an unwavering commitment to accessibility. For me, and for many of my colleagues at VitalSource, accessibility isn’t just a “box to check,” it’s a critical part of ensuring successful outcomes for all students.