Natural Reader is a text-to-speech application that reads computer text aloud. Natural Reader will read almost any computer text that can be selected by the mouse including Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF files, and webpages. Text can be typed into or pasted into the Natural Reader main window. It can then be played back aloud by pressing the play button. In the main window, the text is highlighted as it is read. This feature can enhance comprehension and attention for students with specific learning disabilities and attention deficits. Natural Reader can also be used as a floating bar, which floats over other applications. This allows the student to easily navigate other documents, highlight text and play it aloud using Natural Reader without having to copy and paste into the Natural Reader main window. In the Lincoln Land Community College Special Needs Office, we convert printed textbooks into electronic text (etext) so that students using Natural Reader can read it.
Adobe Acrobat Standard serves several functions in the Special Needs Department. It is used to scan textbooks into accessible Adobe PDF files for etext, magnify and modify document background colors and text sizes for students with visual/perceptual disabilities, and as a study tool for students with specific learning disabilities. A few of the study tools include copy/paste notes, different colors of text highlighting, sticky notes, and the ability to look up the definitions and pronunciations of selected words. Adobe Acrobat also performs several functions in the production of braille for students who are blind and the production of DAISY (Digital Assessable Information System) talking books.
PlexTalk DAISY Book Player
The PlexTalk is a DAISY Talking Book player, digital recorder, and MP3 audio file player that can be used by students with visual, physical or learning disabilities. Students can download textbooks from Learning Ally, listen to electronic text as MP3 files, or record notes and lectures. The keypad controls allow the student to easily navigate books and digital recordings. The PlexTalk Pocket is about the size of a cell phone and runs on a rechargeable battery that can last up to 10 hours.
Aurora Suite 2005
Aurora Suite 2005 provides several accessibility features for students with specific learning or physical disabilities and dyslexia. Features include word prediction, a talking spellchecker and homonyms assistance. Aurora Echo provides simple screenreading and a complete range of readback tools to read word processing documents, emails, web pages and even application menus aloud, highlighting each word as it is spoken.
Zoom Twix is a digital scanning camera that will scan books and documents on-the-fly. The student can place the book underneath the camera and have the pages converted to text and read aloud. This technology can be used by students with visual and specific learning disabilities to read books, tests, and printed course materials aloud without the use of a document scanner.
Dolphin EasyConverter & Easy Reader
Dolphin EasyConverter is an application that produces many types of alternate media for students with visual, physical, or specific learning disabilities including large print, braille, MP3 audio, and DAISY talking books.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a speech recognition application that allows the student to dictate into the computer verbally and have the computer type the text. Also, it can be used to control the computer. This technology is useful for students with disabilities that prohibit the use of the keyboard, including physical disabilities or specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
Zoom Text Screen Magnifier/Reader
Zoom Text is an application that magnifies the computer screen and reads it aloud. This is a useful tool for students with low vision. It also allows text window colors and fonts to be modified to meet the student’s specific needs.
JAWS for Windows
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is one of the most popular screen readers for students who are visually impaired or blind. It allows the user to control and use a computer without having to see the screen. It reads text and other visual elements audibly. JAWS can output to speech using its built-in speech synthesizer and/or a refreshable Braille display, a pad with raised dots to represent text on the screen. Furthermore, JAWS has several features allowing it to be customized for the user's specific needs and computer applications.
Williams Sound Personal Listening System
This personal listening device can be used by a student who is hard of hearing to fully participate in class activities. It has separate microphone inputs for the surrounding environment and for the instructor. Additionally, it has settings for low and high pitch to meet the student’s specific needs.
UbiDuo Communication Device
UbiDuo is a portable communication device that allows a student who is hard of hearing or deaf to have face-to-face conversations with a hearing person, without the use of a sign language interpreter. This is especially useful when the conversation is confidential or when an interpreter is not available. UbiDuo is a wireless, battery operated system with two keyboards and two display screens.
Tiger Elite 150 Braille/Ink Embosser/Printer
The Tiger Elite 150 Braille Embosser produces single or double sided Braille documents directly from Microsoft Word using the ViewPlus software. The Ink Connect attachment prints the original text above the Braille character, so both blind and sighted users can read the document. Unlike most other embossers, then Tiger can create high-resolution tactile graphics including diagrams and charts with Braille labels.
The Special Needs Office also has flatbed and multiple page/double sided document scanners that can be used to create Braille, electronic text (etext), large print, and audio files using various software applications.