Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

eReader: A Technology Key for Reading Success

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

eReader: A Technology Key for Reading Success

Article excerpt

For children and adults with learning disabilities, low vision, and reading impairments, print-based text can be completely inaccessible. In recent years, software developers have created electronic screen readers that convert digitized text to speech, but few of these programs offer effective control over how the text is displayed and read. These screen readers are not focused on providing educational support and challenge to struggling readers. The World Wide Web poses additional barriers. The Web provides a great deal of useful, educational information, but its reading levels, page design, and emphasis on graphics can make it inaccessible--or even unusable--for some.

TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES AN OPTION

CAST (the Center for Applied Special Technology), a Peabody, Massachusetts, not-for-profit organization that uses technology to expand educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities, is addressing these issues with the CAST eReader. An upgraded and enhanced version of a product formerly called ULTimate Reader, the CAST eReader is a computer software tool designed to support learners who may lack the skills to read independently. The software program makes electronic text accessible by adding voice and synchronized highlighting, whether the text is on disk or on the Internet. Users who may benefit from this software include anyone who has a reading, learning, and/or attention disorder, who struggles with reading, who speaks English as a second language, or who has low vision or certain mobility problems.

eReader software users can select the volume, speed, and pitch of the its read-aloud voices to find the combination that works best for them. The software's highlighting feature lets users highlight text by word, by line, by sentence, or by paragraph, and with the reading voice on or off. The program can be used for tracking or pacing while reading, and/or to associate the way a word looks with the way it sounds: Users with low vision can adjust the font, style, and size of the text and choose any color for text, background, and highlighting to achieve maximum contrast.

Study supports offered by the software include: flexible navigation, spellchecking, and "drag and drop" note-taking in which the user can select a block of text and drag it into a new notes window for later review. …

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