top of page

Bookshare Mobile Reader

Making reading accessible on the go as well as in the classroom, Bookshare mobile reader syncs across devices.

All Readers Ad.png

The Scenario

Bookshare is a digital library that uses text-to-speech technology to bring millions of books to users for whom reading a print book is difficult – people with blindness, low-vision, learning challenges, and physical limitations. As such, we needed to offer our users multiple ways to read a book – through a web browser, a mobile app, or a smart speaker.  Not only do the readers need to work visually, they must work for low-vision and blind users as well.  It was important for the reader to respect any accessibility settings the user may have set for the device, such as large text, dark mode, and screen readers.

What I Explored

I looked at various ways of laying out the main library screen as well as the workflow when you tap a book card.  When the user taps a card the book details page appears unless the book has already been downloaded, in which case the book opens where the user left off.  This way the user doesn’t always have to navigate to the details page to open the book.


On the main library screen, I wanted users to see an image of the book cover as well as the title and author and whether or not the book has been downloaded.  These are large regions that can be tapped easily or scrolled through with a screenreader.


After watching blind users try to navigate websites and mobile apps and seeing how tedious it can be for them to find what they are looking for on the screen, I decided it was important for the audio controls to be first in the list of control settings since screen reader users don’t need any of the visual controls.


Audio First

This app was designed first and foremost with accessibility in mind.  In my work with people with visual disabilities, I have learned that people with blindness have very different needs than people with low-vision.  Because blind people rely on audio and often have to wade through a lot of it to get to the information they are looking for, I decided the audio settings should be first in the settings panel.  This way, they can adjust their audio and leave the settings panel without exploring any of the visual settings.


Accessible Defaults

Utilizing research conducted by The Readability Group and others, I decided we should offer a selection of default fonts - serif (Times New Roman), non-serif (Arial and Helvetica), and specialized fonts designed for accessibility such as Atkinson Hyperlegible and Open Dyslexic.

My color defaults selections were also developed based on low-vision and color-blindness research and include high-contrast, dark background, and soft backgrounds like lemon yellow and light blue.  These were tested with WebAIM Contrast Checker and adhere to WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines) standards.

The Solution

BMR workflow.png

The Future

  • Discover new books through a recommendation engine

  • Organize books
bottom of page