TEXT-TO-SPEECH -- CONVERTING DIGITAL TEXTS TO AUDIO
All students now have a great accessibility tool available to them for free – the ability to listen written text read aloud. See below for the various ways that you can convert digital text to audio.
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. You can adjust the settings to your 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. Care to listen to a PDF read aloud? You can, using the PDF Reader tool.
Read&Write is available for free to all members of the Dickinson community!
Click the relevant link below to learn how to download it to your computer:
Read&Write can be found on the computers in the following locations in the Waidner-Spahr Library: Alden Room, Library Classroom 1, Library Classroom 2, and the Reference Commons.
BUILT-IN TEXT-TO-SPEECH AND DICTATION FOR OFFICE 365
Here is guidance for How to Use the Accessible Reading Tools in Office 365 with Word. You can also view instructions for how to access text-to-speech for Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote. And here's guidance for how to dictate your documents, emails, notes, and ppt slides.
BUILT-IN TEXT-TO-SPEECH AND DICTATION FOR APPLE PRODUCTS
Every Mac comes equipped with accessibility features that include text-to-speech and dictation software. The link above explains how to enable each, and here is a video of a college student explaining how and why to enable text-to-speech on a Mac. You can also enable text-to-speech and dictation on your iPhone, so that even when you’re on the go, you can listen to what someone sent you or dictate your texts and emails. (Just remember to proofread after you do!)
BUILT-IN DICTATION FOR WINDOWS 10, ANDROID, AND GOOGLE DOCS
Users of Android phones, Google Docs, or Windows 10 can learn how to enable dictation by following this guidance document, For earlier versions of Windows, we recommend using the dictation features in Office 365 or in Read&Write.
OTHER FREE TEXT-TO-SPEECH OPTIONS
CONVERTING PDF DOCUMENTS TO ENABLE TEXT-TO-SPEECH
Students can quickly convert nearly any file type to an accessible (convertible to audio) format for use with screen reading text-to-speech programs (such as Read&Write) by following this "Making PDFs Accessible" guidance. All file types available for conversion are listed at the bottom of the page.
GRAMMAR AND SPELL CHECKER PROGRAMS
Students 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 – "Dyslexia Writing and Reading Assistant" (Here's a video explanation of how to use Ghotit.)
- Grammarly – an integrated spelling and grammar checker, it will also suggest improvements for tone and has a plagiarism checker. Here's a review of Grammarly.
- Microsoft Editor – spelling and grammar checker. Available as a Chrome or Microsoft Edge extension here.
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 Read&Write 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 detailed descriptions of any of the above information, contact Emily Wetzel at ADSTechnology@Dickinson.edu
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH A TEXT-TO-SPEECH ACCOMMODATION
Students with disabilities who would like to be able to access books in digital (convertible to audio) format should contact Access and 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 (to Convert to Audio) Format" guide.
Questions regarding any difficulties you may be encountering with converting books from digital to audio format should be directed to Emily Wetzel at ADSTechnology@dickinson.edu.
SMART PENS – FOR STUDENTS WITH AN ACCOMMODATION TO RECORD CLASS
Smartpens record audio while the user writes notes, so any notes written serve as a bookmark to be able to replay what was said when that note was written. Here's a video of students explaining what they like about using the Livescribe for note-taking, and here is a video demonstration of how the Livescribe pen works. 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.
ADS has a limited number of Livescribe smartpens available for checkout for students with a note-taking accommodation. 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 email ADS to let us know.
MICROSOFT OFFICE ONENOTEAND LENS
OneNote (which is compatible with Mac and Windows devices) enables you to create digital notebooks that you can access from anywhere, and within each notebook (e.g. “Fall ‘21”), you can set up each of your classes as a new subject, and each class session as “page.” You can type or draw in OneNote, as well as insert tables, pictures, files, videos, and more. You can also dictate text that it’ll type up for you, have text read aloud, and even enter math formulas that can be solved or graphed! Learn more about how to download and start using OneNote!
While the use of OneNote is recommended for all students, those students who have the accommodation of recording class using a computer may wish to use OneNote's Audio Notes feature, which enables you to type while recording, and then sync the audio with what you've typed. Here’s a video tutorial of How to use the Audio Notes feature in OneNote (the section on audio recording class starts at 1:24).
Office Lens is a companion app for OneNote that you can use to upload photos of your handwritten notes to your notebook in OneNote.
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.
Access and 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.