E-Readers are the applications used to view available e-books that are often enhanced with music, external links, simulations and sound effects. Many offer additional features such as the ability to highlight text, bookmark a page, search a book for for a word or a name or look up an unfamiliar work in a dictionary.
Students who are blind or have learning disabilities use computers for reading text in an accessible format through a screen reading device and/or software that speaks words produced on the computer screen. E-Reader features include text-to-speech so that any e-book can be read aloud.
E-books are able to provide information in alternate formats to diverse learners, effectively reducing the "Digital Divide" that exists for students with disabilities. They are going to change how education is delivered and may reduce the cost of textbooks and print materials. Although e-books have great educational potential, publishers have been reluctant (due to intellectual property and industry standards) to move to this format. Recent legislation requiring instructional materials to be provided in alternate formats may encourage publishers to move quickly to resolve these issues.
In using the e-book version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, as a student clicks on a word on a page several options become available: hearing the word, adding a highlight, copying the text or looking up its meaning.
No need to actually turn a page or look through an index. Finding other occurrences of a word is immediately available!
There are several popular free eReaders that can be downloaded to your computer to read any text file or e-book. Some include graphics, offer a 2-page view and provide ways to draw and take notes.
Comparing eBook Readers (Barnes & Noble)
...and eBooks for all
Knowledge Rush Book Directory
Lambropoulos, Dinos. A Virtual Paradise for Readers in E-link Newsletter Archives. Offers information on books for e-readers. November, 2002.
Meyer, A. & Rose, D. (2000). Learning to Read in the Computer Age. CAST Website: http://www.cast.org/udl/index.cfm?i=18
O'Neill, Jennifer (February 06, 2001). Book Industry Takes Lessons From Napster: Publishers try to deliver what you want in a digital book, but still turn a profit. PC World.
EBook Add-In Reader for Office 2000: Make any Word 2000 document into an EBook-format document. PC World, Apr 23, 2001
Poftak, Amy (April, 2001). Getting a Read on E-Books. Technology and Learning Network.
Sly, Rudolph (July, 2000). eReaders for Handheld and Palm-size PCs. PocketPC Magazine