AT and Learning Disabilities

Text Reading and Writing (Text to Voice)

Some software programs can read text on a screen (document, Web page or e-mail) aloud. If the material isn’t already in electronic format, hard copy text can be scanned and converted to a text file. The computer can then read the words back using synthetic speech while simultaneously highlighting the words on screen.

Reading software can be especially helpful to those who are better listeners than readers. Reading systems can highlight a word, sentence, or paragraph using contrasting colors to add emphasis to what is being read aloud. Experiencing words with sight and hearing helps promote learning, and following the highlighted words in sequence across the page is particularly valuable to students with learning disabilities.

Reading software typically has a dictionary and a thesaurus that can be customized for particular subjects or books, so that definitions can be read aloud to the student. Some include study skills toolbars and ways to extract notes for review, summary, and outlining.

Reading software can be used to help a student edit his or her typed work. Hearing the text may help the student catch writing errors such as problems with grammar, or words that have been left out- errors that might not have been noticed by visually reading it. Listening to text may also help users determine if their writing makes sense, and if it really means what they are trying to say.  Hearing personal writing attempts read out loud usually inspires better editing for content as well as fluency.


Many of these companies offer free trial downloads:

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