Inclusion. The blog for the Center for Disability Studies.

Continue reading and you’ll continue growing

By David Lynch

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A natural pairing: the writer and his books.

It concerns me when I hear from people who’ve stopped reading because of their disability. It concerns me because I can relate – I’ve been there – and because many of these people, it turns out, can continue reading.

One day, a few years ago, I stopped reading books because it had become difficult, with my muscular dystrophy, to physically pick them up and turn the pages. I felt so frustrated. Reading books had been an important part of my life. As a child I’d taken the advice of Dr. Seuss in his book “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” In the years that followed, you’d routinely find me with a book in hand or within reach.

Shortly after I gave them up because of my disability, I found out about Bookshare, a nonprofit that helps persons with disabilities read electronically. Bookshare’s website opened up new opportunities for me, and I began reading again. If you’ve given up reading because of your disability, Bookshare may allow you to resume reading, too.

Bookshare is available to individuals who are unable to pick up a book, turn pages, maintain visual focus, and may be legally blind. Its website provides information on eligibility, membership fees, tools available on how to read electronically, and how to obtain necessary documentation to complete an application.

Bookshare is part of a Global Literacy initiative to use technology to address pressing social needs.

I now access books electronically via the web reader provided on the Bookshare website. This allows me to read, listen and follow text right on my computer. I am also able to request, electronically, textbooks for my continuing education classes right on the website. In addition, I can access other books: biographies, faith-based books and books on history.

President Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Since I want to lead and guide others, it is important that I take every opportunity to read a book. Technology is helping me do that. If your disability is presenting you with challenges concerning your ability to read, you may find that technology can help you, too. I hope it will. Continue to read, and you’ll continue to grow.

About the Author

David Lynch was a member of the executive committee of CDS’s Community Advisory Council. He passed away in March, 2016.

As a self-advocate, David brought a personal perspective to navigating the disability community and was passionate about seeking improvements for persons with disabilities.

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