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Bookshare International

Making the Bookshare library accessible to readers around the world in their own language.

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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. With the popularity of smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google, it became increasingly important for Bookshare Reader to be available on a voice platform. 

What I Explored

The Bookshare website had been live for a few years when we added the international site.  This was a good opportunity to improve some of the issues people had with the current site.  I ran several user studies to look at how people used the site, what kinds of information they were looking for, and why they could or couldn’t find it. 


One issue was the menus in the header bar.  They were originally designed to help people understand whether or not they qualified for a Bookshare account.  We had since learned that this was not the most important aspect of the site and didn’t warrant so much real estate.  Additionally, to facilitate translation and make reading easier for those who find it difficult, we reduced the sheer number of words on the page.

The Solution

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The Bookshare site on the left shows a large header with menus that takes up a lot of vertical real estate.  Due to limitations of the CMS we were using, it was difficult to change the layout, but in the international sites, we took advantage of the simpler format to remove the menus, add the language menu, and reduce the amount of text that describes the library.

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