Accessibility software and features
Accessibility software isn't new, but over the past few years there have been massive advancements in the technology that drives it. It is becoming more and more powerful each day, as well as being added as standard features on more and more devices. For our students that is tremendous news. Accessibility software allows our students to side step hurdles when it comes to reading and writing. A paperback book could never read itself aloud, but that same text on a computer can. When getting thoughts down on paper is a challenge because of difficulties like dyslexia or dysgraphia, students can dictate their ideas to their computer and like magic, their thoughts are written out in front of them in near real time. Accessibility software are complete game changers in the lives of our students. But like all technology, there are some softwares that are better than others, and so this is our list of our tried, tested and LOVED accessibility software.
What started as a personal study tool has now evolved into a fully featured text-to-speech reader. This free to download app is one of our absolute favorites. It's super easy to use. The reader is activated with simple keyboard commands, unlocking anything on your screen to be read aloud. It also features natural, easy to understand voices that even take things like punctuation into consideration when speaking. We've tried a number of apps that have droning, flat voices that are a chore to listen to. Not Speechify. We couldn't recommend this app enough for anyone looking for a great text-to-speech reader, this really is the best in show.
Download this app for Mac or Chromebook at
Voice Dream Reader
Nothing is quite like getting lost in a good book. Voice Dream Reader gifts that experience to our students who struggle to read. This text-to-speech app works like, well, a dream! It has the ability to pull content from sources like Google Docs, Evernote, Bookshare, and beyond. Our students jump right into novels with just a few taps and it couldn't get easier. Novels will auto bookmark so you can quickly pick up right where you left off. You can choice from over 180 voices, set a sleep timer, take notes in the "margin", highlight important text, and so much more. There's even a focus mode which reduces any page to just three lines so students can easily follow along with what's being read aloud. No text-to-speech app comes close to what Voice Dream Reader offers in a single package. Well worth the price of admission.
Apple Accessibility Features
One of the reasons we love Mac is because of the robust and powerful accessibility features that are built in, no additional software needed. Beyond that, these aren't afterthoughts that are given little to no attention. Accessibility is one of Apple core values and they are continually improving these features with every new release. It's important to us as a school to teach our students how to use tools that are readily available, don't have upgrade costs or won't go obsolete in the near future. Apple has proven that their commitment to accessibility isn't going to trail off anytime soon. Every Mac and iOS device comes standard with built in speech-to-text, and text-to-speech (and so much more) that work in almost any application. For something that is standard out of the box, we're hard pressed to find a better feature set.