Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Read:OutLoud 6

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Read:OutLoud 6

Article excerpt

Company: Don Johnston, Inc., 26799 West Commerce Drive, Volo, IL 60073. Phone: (800) 999-4660; internet: www.donjohnston.com.

Price: $299 per computer for one to four computers; $209.30 per computer for five to nine computers; $200.33 per computer for 10 to 19 computers; $191.36 per computer for 20 to 49 computers. The discount pricing options for 50 or more computers may go as low as $74.75 per computer. Unlimited site license options are available with take -home privileges for students and teachers.

Audience: Any grade for which appropriate grade-level reading etexts or internet sites are available. The program is probably best suited for use in grades 3 or 4 through adult.

Format: CD-ROM, Mac/Windows.

Minimum System Requirements:

For Windows systems: A Pentium 4 processor with 400MB disk space and 512MB RAM (for standard installation) and Windows XP or Vista.

For Mac systems: A G5 processor with 1.6GHz disk space, 512MB RAM, and OS 10.4 or 10.5.

For both platforms: An internet browser, Adobe Acrobat (available at no cost) for some of the support files, a 256-color monitor with 1024 ? 768 resolution, a CD-ROM drive (8x), a color printer, and speakers.

Description: The Read:OutLoud 6 text reader provides a framework and tools that help individuals with reading disabilities to read etexts and other materials in common, accessible book formats (PDF, NIMAS, DAISY 3, Microsoft "Save as Daisy," Bookshare files, RTF, TXT, HTML, and XML). The program includes a built-in web browser and can be used on networks or with individual machines.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: I installed Read: OutLoud 6 on several newer Windows machines. The installation process is standard, intuitive, and easy. On-screen instructions guide the installation. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Read: OutLoud 6 can read books in a number of formats without converting the text from its original form. This is especially helpful because the conversion process can sometimes limit the functionality of the results.

When launched, the Read: OutLoud 6 text reader looks like a web browser and opens at the Don Johnston website's Accessible Books section for access to 18 ebooks from various sources on different subjects and grade levels. Some of these texts are illustrated.

Before working on this review, I had not looked at etexts for a number of years. I was surprised by what I saw when examining those recommended by Don Johnston. There were the basic etexts that I had expected, but there were also some profusely illustrated texts and some with multiple links, navigation aides, and very nice layouts. Some of these texts also took advantage of HTML coding for a very sophisticated appearance and excellent readability.

A few of the etexts were from Wikibooks and Wikijunior (http://en.wik ibooks.org), Wikimedia communities designed to create a free library of educational books that anyone can edit, much like Wikipedia.

Additional reading resources are available via links from the Don Johnston site's Accessible Books section, resources mentioned in the text reader's supporting documentation, and the Wikimedia communities.

Bookshare members can use Read: OutLoud 6 to click on any of the 50,000 ebooks and periodicals stored in the online Bookshare library to instantly open the text without "unpacking" it. (Bookshare is a nonprofit organization partially funded through the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.)

In addition to presenting etexts in various file formats in a very readable form, Read:OutLoud 6 provides a number of tools that facilitate their reading and use. …

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