Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Assuring Digital Content Can Be Read Aloud

In today's classroom, every student needs to know how to use built-in technology features to meet 21st-century learning standards.  Did you know that over 50% of students who are reading below grade level can access, listen to and understand grade-level text independently with a reading accommodation, such as read aloud?  Reading accommodations may include audio books, using text readers to listen to digital text read aloud, or listening to a live person read text aloud.  Consider students in your classroom who might benefit from read-aloud options. In this section, we will learn about some read-aloud tools that will prove effective for every student in your classroom!

Section Objective:  

  • Compare and contrast read-aloud tools and strategies for providing access to digital text for all students.

Review Tip 3 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Read-Aloud Tools For Digital Text

There are free read-aloud tools built-in to computer operating systems and web browsers.  You'll find that iOS, Google, and Microsoft platforms constantly change and improve their accessibility features, especially for reading accommodations.  Some students with disabilities may need more robust read-aloud tools to meet their specific needs.  Read about and watch videos highlighting the built-in read-aloud tools in iOS, Google, and Microsoft, as well as 3rd party tools that feature read-aloud, such as Snap&Read, Read&Write, and WordQ on this SETC webpage: Read Aloud Accessibility Features and Tools 

Try out Free Read Aloud Tools

Remember to always try the free read aloud tools first.  Start by choosing your preferred platform to make sure you know about the free built-in read aloud tools that are available.  If you want to expand your knowledge, continue exploring some tools for other platforms using the links below.

MicrosoftGoogle ChromeiOSAndroid

Immersive Reader

Read Aloud in Edge Browser

Chrome Buil-in Select to Speak

Chrome Extensions to Support Reading

Use Immersive Reader on Websites

iPad Tip: Speak Selection & Speak Screen (video)

Speak the Screen and selected Text

Talkback Screen Reader

Select to Speak

Free Read Aloud Tools Built into Web Browsers

SETC video:  Read Aloud in Chrome Browser

Read Aloud in Chrome Browser (3:20)

SETC Video:  Use Immersive Reader on Websites

Use Immersive Reader on Websites

 

SETC video:  Read Aloud in the Edge Browser

Read Aloud in the EDGE Web Browser (1:43 min)

Learn about More Robust Accessibility Tools for Reading

Sometimes the free built-in reading accessibility tools are not robust enough to meet the specific learning needs of students.  In this case, you may want to look at additional Assistive Tech paid tools that have more reading features and supports. Get an overview of these 3rd party tools by reviewing the SETC webpage on Read Aloud Tools.  Note that some of these tools are able to convert inaccessible images of text into readable text using optical character recognition (OCR) technology.  Let's look at a few tools in more detail.

Snap&Read Google extension has the ability to read any digital text aloud as well as dynamic text leveling, PDF annotation, translation, color masking, and readability analyzer.. Watch this video:  Snap&Read Universal Quick Overview 

Read&Write Google extension is a literacy support tool that includes reading text out loud with word highlighting and visual preferences.  It also has support for understanding unfamiliar words, researching assignments, and editing written work. To learn more about the read aloud feature in Read&Write, watch this video:  Read&Write for Google Chrome - Practice Reading Aloud Overview

Supporting Reading for Students with Specific Disabilities

Students with disabilities have special factors and may need assistive technology to improve access to classroom content.  Links and Resources to Support Students with Specific Disabilities may provide additional information on resources and agencies that can provide support for students with specific disabilities.

What would this look like in my classroom?

Text to Speech in the Classroom (4:16)

Lesson Tip: Teach a lesson to your whole class on how to use the built-in read-aloud features on your preferred web browser.  All students will benefit from this lesson, but some students will need this skill as an accommodation to access grade-level content.

teacher instructing classroom of students

Reflection

1. Can you think of a student who is below grade level in reading that might benefit from listening to text read aloud using some of the strategies and tools in this section?  What impact might that have on class discussions when all of your students have access to the content?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

OVERVIEW
level 1

EXPLORE
level 2

APPLICATION
level 3

I have a general understanding of read-aloud technology tools.I watched the video on read-aloud tools available for my favorite browser and practiced using the tool.I set up and utilized a read-aloud tool with one of my students.

Glossary:  

  • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
  • Accommodation - An alteration of the environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
  • OCR: Optical Character Recognition is a method for scanning text and using text recognition to convert a picture of that text into a format that can be read aloud and edited.
  • Select to Speak or Speak Selection - is a feature that reads text on a screen after it has been selected with mouse cursor of touch access method.
  • TTS - Text to Speech is the conversion of printed or digital text to audio.
  • Web Browser - is a type of software that allows users to find and view websites on the internet.