Digital Text Resources and Reading Support

Technology and Reading - The overall goal of reading is to make meaning from text. High-tech tools can support this process, for all students, and especially those who have difficulty in comprehension.

Why use digital text? By providing books and documents in multiple formats, you are allowing students to make choices in the way that they access the information to support listening comprehension.
  • Audio formats enable students to
    • Listen to the text (CD or MP3 player)
    • Follow the printed text with audio support
    • Use graphic representation or an outline of information
Text in PDF or other text formats can be accessed on a computer with a text reader application or other special device that reads the information aloud.

Joe's Non Netbook - Non digital text challenges teen

Resources for Accessing Text in Alternative Formats

  • Textbooks may be available through the publisher on CDs or online.
    • Check with your curriculum director or the department chairperson at the high school. It is also important to check the quality and accessibility of these resources.

  • Your local public library may be a valuable resource for books on audio CD or in MP3 format.
    • Access to their collections are available online, and a hold can be placed on a desired book with notification sent to you when it is available for pick up.
    • Many library systems are linked through a cooperative, and these searches can help you to locate items from many sources.
      • The Greater Grand Rapids - Holland - Muskegon, Michigan area operates under the Lakeland Library Cooperative. Books and other items can be obtained in this way by following these simple steps:
  • Make use of your REMC materials!
  • PlayAway, Playaway is the newest format of audio, combining a wide variety of content with an easy-to-use player all in one small unit. When you receive your Playaway, all you have to do is press play to start listening immediately – there is no need for a separate player, and it comes with earbuds and a battery to make it play. Titles are available through REMC and your local public library.
  • - Links to online picture books, many with text to speech already built in.
  • - Websites that provide text in various formats. Magazines, novels, cartoons, poetry, and much more.
  • Technology enhanced alternatives to book reports - great ideas for multiple means of representation!
  • PowerPoint Ebook Tutorial - YouTube video of step by step directions for creating a story book using PowerPoint in Windows 2007.

Text to Speech Tools

  • Mac OS-X offers Text to Speech and Speech Recognition through System Preferences >Speech.
  • Windows Sound Recorder- A simple audio recording utility included with all versions of the Microsoft Windows Operating System published since 1995. Record sentences from tests or quizzes for students who require a reader. Allow students to record responses rather than dictating to a scribe.
  • Microsoft Office 2003 has text to speech built in. Although this feature is not included in Office 2007, these features can be installed from the Office 2003 installation disks. With a document open, from the file menu choose Tools >Speech.

Links to Free Downloads of Text to Speech Applications

  • Balabolka - a free text to speech program for Windows
  • Browsealoud - reads web pages aloud for people who find it difficult to read online. PC or Mac
  • CLiCk, Speak - an open source, freely available extension for the Firefox web browser, designed for sighted users who want text-to-speech functionality
  • My StudyBar - portable open source and freeware applications to support learners with literacy difficulties, including mind mapping,word prediction, talking dictionary, text-to-speech, Save as MP3 and voice recognition. Works on Windows Vista and Windows 7.
  • Natural Reader - text to speech software for Windows
  • PowerTalk- program provides automatic speech for PowerPoint presentations
  • ReadPlease - text-to-speech software for Windows® based operating systems
  • TidyRead free download - renders web pages with better readability as an-easy-to-read manner
    • Accurately extracts the context text
    • Removes cluttering materials such as ads
    • Choose background color, text color, and font size to best suit your preferences using the TidyRead toolbar
  • WordTalk- free text to speech plug-in for use with all versions of MS Word, highlights words as read and provides control of voice and speech rate