Tar Heel Reader, an online program that helps students with disabilities learn to read independently, is nearing 10 million books read. The site, which was created by Karen Erickson of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and Gary Bishop of the department of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is expected to reach the 10 million milestone in early January, less than a decade after its launch.
Tar Heel Reader is an online collection of free, easy-to-read and accessible books on a wide range of topics. The site was built to fight illiteracy among underserved populations, including those with disabilities that make it difficult to learn to read using traditional books and learning methods. Each book on Tar Heel Reader can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple types of interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys keyboard and 1 to 3 assistive switches that function like standard buttons.
Although Tar Heel Reader was originally built for older children and adolescents with disabilities in the United States, the site’s ease of use has made it a popular choice for a variety of language teachers and students across the world. The library now contains more than 50 thousand books in 27 languages and has been accessed by users in more than 200 countries and territories.
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