Read and Write
Read and Write for Windows and Read and Write for Mac is a toolbar that interacts with all programs ran on your computer. It has many tools that are great to assist both students with and without print related disabilities. It is currently installed in all computer labs and can be downloaded to your home computer. Here is an overview of the tools available.
- Check It. Runs a spell checker on selected text.
- Word Prediction. Similar to the prediction features on standard cell phones.
- Dictionary. Provides definitions of a selected word. Options under "Show More Settings" (see below) include choosing the source for the definition.
- Picture dictionary. Provides images associated with a selected word.
- Rewind. Moves back one reading unit (e.g., sentence) from the currently selected or focused text and reads it.
- Play. Highlight a few words near the beginning of the text you want to have read, then click on the Play icon.
- Pause. Pause current reading. When Pause is clicked a second time, the audio continues from the stopping point.
- Forward. Moves ahead one reading unit from the currently selected or focused text and reads it.
- Stop. Stops the current reading. If the user then presses Play, reading recommences from the beginning of the current reading unit.
- Screenshot Reader. Allows user to capture text in any format and read it using Text Reader or send the screenshot to Word. Useful for reading bitmapped (non-selectable) text or other text that cannot be accessed with the Play or PDFReader functions.
- Scan. Supports hardware scanners (attached to several computers throughout campus) to convert print text into a readable electronic format. It can also be used to convert PDFs into an editable Word format.
- Audio Maker. Allows you to paste in text and convert it to an MP3 file. (A freeware program called Balabolka provides similar functionality and may be able to handle larger amounts of text than Audio Maker.)
- Screen Masking. Tints all or part of the screen. The “Show More Settings” dialog (see below) allows you to set color preferences as well as specify how the tinting should appear.
- Talk&Type. Provides access to the speech input utility built into the Windows operating system.
- Translation. Translates a highlighted word or paragraph from and to a wide variety of languages.
- PDF Reader. Provides access to a program designed to read PDF files that are already formatted as text.
Read and Write is available to all UM-Flint students, regardless to disability status, free of charge. You can learn more about, and download Read & Write at the U of M ITS page.
Livescribe Echo SmartPen
For students with issues taking notes, the Livescribe Echo SmartPen is a great tool. It is a pen equiped with a recorder and camera at the tip. Using specialized paper, the pen matches the recording with the writing. Later, to playback from a certain point, the student just has to tap on the page and the pen will play back from that point. This allows students to feel more confident in their notes, and relieves the pressure of having to record every word the instructor says.
For students with qualifying disabilties, DASS will provide a SmartPen on loan. This is a great alternative to a human note taker because it allows the individual student to grow as an independent learner.
For many students with physical or writing disabilities, typing can be problematic. For these students, voice-to-text software is key to their success. UM-Flint has a couple options that are readily available to all students. Both Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 are available to students free of charge and have quality voice-to-text functionality built in. Google Docs can be accessed by logging in to your email account, clicking the waffle icon by your picture, and selecting Drive. Office 365 can be downloaded on your home computer free of charge using this link.