TEXT TO SPEECH -- Converting Books and Texts to Audio
All students now have a great accessibility tool available to them for free. For more information, see these instructions on How to Use the Accessible Reading Tools in Office 365. Students with disabilities who would like to be able to access books in digital (convertible to audio) format should contact the Office of Disability Services to determine whether you would be eligible for enrollment in Bookshare, which hosts a collection of books in digital format. Students already determined to be eligible for access to books in an alternative format have additional options, and should refer to this "How to Access Books in Digital Format to Convert to Audio" guide.
"Read&Write" by Text Help
Read&Write is a software program that will read aloud all digital texts—including Word documents, webpages, and PDFs, and has features to assist with outlining, research citations, proofreading, vocabulary-building, and more. Once downloaded to your computer, Read&Write works with a floating, customizable toolbar where users can adjust the settings to their preferred voice and speed and even convert written texts to an MP3 audio file to save to iTunes.
Video explanations of its many features are available on YouTube, like this video demonstration of how to use Read&Write for Google Chrome, as well as on the "Video Tours" section under the "rw" icon on the toolbar. One commonly used feature of Read&Write is PDF Aloud. This feature enables you to convert even PDF documents to be read aloud, so if you'd like to scan a chapter of a book, email it to yourself, and hear it read aloud, you can!
Read&Write is available for free to all members of the Dickinson community! To access, login to Gateway, and click on "Academic Resources." Then follow the download instructions for Mac or PC users.
Students can also find Read&Write on the computers in the following locations in the Waidner-Spahr Library: Alden Room, Information Commons, IC Classroom, and the Reference Commons.
Other Free Text-to-Speech Options
Built-in Assistive Technology for MAC Users
Students who use a MAC computer have assistive technology available already! Though you may access these features differently on newer models, every MAC comes equipped with text-to-speech software, dictactation software, and Audionotes (which allows you to record and type notes simultaneously). Please be advised that computer use in class and the recording of class lectures is not permitted without first consulting with faculty, even if a student has a related accommodation. Failure to obtain proper consent may result in a violation of Pennsylvania's wiretap statutes.
For non-Mac users who wish to use a program that will type the words they dictate, ODS has dictation software available to loan.
Smartpens record audio while the user writes notes, linking the audio with the time when the notes were written, and allowing students to replay what was said. Here's a video of students explaining what they like about using the LiveScribe for note-taking, and here’s a clip of a college student explaining how to use the pen to help with lecture notes. Please remember, there are restrictions placed on students' use of a recording device in the classroom without an accommodation to do so, and all students must consult with faculty before making any recordings in class. Failure to obtain proper consent may result in a violation of Pennsylvania's wiretap statutes.
ODS has a limited number of LiveScribe Smartpens available for checkout for students with a note-taking accommodations. Some with a note-taking accommodation may prefer to buy their own through LiveScribe or at stores like Staples, Target, Walmart, or on eBay. If you are a student with a note-taking accommodation who wishes to borrow a LiveScribe pen, please contact ODS to let us know.
Individuals with dyslexia may want to consider downloading and using Dyslexie--a font designed to assuage the challenges often posed by reading traditional fonts. This video provides a demonstration of its use.
Grammar and Spell Checker Programs
Student interested in advanced grammar and spell checker programs may be thrilled to discover such highly rated software programs as these (which include free versions):
- Ginger spell checker (Here's a video explanation of how to use Ginger)
- Ghotit --"Dylexia Writing and Reading Assistant" (Here's a video explanation of how to use Ghotit)
- Grammarly -- marketed as a grammar and plagiarism checker
Disability Services has a Farview portable magnifying system available for loan. A CCTV Clearview+ Magnifying System that enables users to zoom in on small print materials is located on the upper level of the library. This 19” full-screen magnifying system allows patrons to more easily view small print materials, providing up to 56x magnification. These Clearview+ video instructions demonstrate the magnifier's ease of use and highlight the Always-In-Focus technology, adjustable monitor, and easy glide reading platform.
Resources on Library Computers
The Waidner-Spahr Library provides a variety of assistive technology resources available to all Dickinson students. Adobe Acrobat Reader 9 and Microsoft Windows 7 Ease of Access Center are installed on all computers in the library. Both contain a read-out-loud feature, as well as several other helpful attributes.
In addition to the RWG software noted above, Ghost Reader, another screen reading software, is available on two Mac computers located in the Alden room on the lower level of the library, near the back wall. Ghost Reader will read aloud PDFs, text files, and Microsoft Word documents to its user.
For more a more detailed description on any of the above information, please contact ODS via email or by telephoning (717)245-1734.