→ Digital Text
Text reader software "reads" the screen using computerized speech. Some text readers highlight the text word by word as it is read. Many software programs also offer a variety of study tools including electronic notes, highlighters, dictionaries and more.
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For text reader software to read, it needs to be provided with some reading material in a digital format. This means that it is text that is presented on the screen and that you can highlight the text with your mouse. Digital text is one of the four formats of AIM (Accessible Instructional Materials). Schools are required by law to provide print instructional materials in accessbile formats to students who need them. Learn more about digital text from the AIM Center.
As with all tools, students benefit when the tool is matched to their educational needs. While not all tools are needed for all students, no student will benefit from software if it is not used in conjunction with real-life learning needs. The team is the only group that can answer the question of whether a student will benefit through examining the needs of the student and the tasks required.
The Protocol for Accommodations in Reading (PAR) (free download) provides a systematic method for data collection to determine how students perform using reading accommodations such as a text reader.
Advanced packages cost between $300 and $1500 for a single
license. MCPS has a minimum of 5-10 licenses of Kurzweil 3000 by Kurzweil
Educational Systems ($395-$1495) in every school. Some schools have more
licenses. Other examples of high-end
text readers are Read & Write Gold by TextHelp ($364-$645) and Read:OutLoud
by Don Johnston ($249). Read:OutLoud is also included in Bookshare
membership. These full-featured text
readers also have the capability of scanning paper documents for reading. The
less expensive versions provide the reading and study tools only. CAST publishes a list of text readers available for purchase.
Text readers with fewer features are available as well, some are even available as a free download from the Internet.
There are many internet sites that provide informational text. Text from these sites can easily be imported into text reader software. Here is a list of good sites for teachers.
You can also subscribe to membership websites that provide the full text of current and popular books for download. These sites are only for use with students who have a reading disability as defined by the Chafee Amendment.
You need two things: something to read (electronic text) and something that will read it (a text reader). Once you have a file of electronic text, you open it in your text reader software which will read it aloud. You'll need to be aware of the file formats (61K pdf) that your text reader can open.
Not necessarily. Talking word processors can also be used to provide text-to-speech. If you already have a talking word processor, such as Clicker, Write:OutLoud or IntelliTalk (part of Classroom Suite) you can paste text into it and use the "read" function to have text read to a student.