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Assistive Technology Spotlight – Texthelp Apps

We are happy to feature innovative new assistive technologies in this blog. Today, we want to tell you about a Web App from Texthelp, eBook Reader, that reads Bookshare books in the Cloud. eBook Reader is one of a new suite of Web Apps that work within browsers on iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, and other mobile devices as well as PCs and Macs. A short video shows how the eBook Reader works. Current Apps include: Read&Write Web, eBook Reader for Bookshare® eBooks, Speech, and Dictionary.

Students in schools and colleges who use Read&Write GOLD can use these Apps at school and at home. They’ll find familiar features, including Read Aloud with dual color highlighting, Dictionary, Translator, and Study Skills, anywhere, anytime.

One early user seems very enthusiastic: “I am beyond thrilled with the new Web Apps from Texthelp! These Apps provide students with full access to curriculum materials on revolutionary mobile devices. Our students will now be able to use the Apps directly on their iPads, in the classroom or media center, sitting in the beanbag chairs or wherever they want. They will not have to go sit at a big computer and look “different” than the other kids. The best part is that there are books on there that the kids want to read. It’s not just the classroom novel or textbook and that has made a huge difference for their independent reading books.

I worked with one student who was a non-reader and would not use a computer or netbook. We put the class reading book on an iPad using the eBook Reader and he loves it. If only you knew this student, because getting him to like anything is so hard. This was like a miracle for us!” states Ashley Tremblay, AT Specialist, CES, Trumbull, CT.

The excitement was shared by another educator, Denise Falcon, a Learning Specialist at The Lillian and Betty Ratner School in Ohio, “Being able to access Bookshare through eBook Reader finally adds the missing pieces that struggling readers need! The highlighting tools and built-in dictionaries give students the tools to finally be able to annotate eBooks and find definitions of unknown words without ever leaving the content.”

The eBook Reader uses Bookshare’s API, (application programming interface), that automates and takes care of many Bookshare functions. Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of the Literacy Program at Benetech said, “We congratulate Texthelp on their new eBook Reader, seamlessly connecting access to educational content at school and home. This use of our API has broken down another barrier to access, making accessible instructional materials (AIM) very easy to use, available anytime, anywhere.”

Here’s a little more information about the Web Apps

  • Read&Write Web – The Read&Write Web toolbar opens within a browser and interacts with web content providing: Text-to-Speech to read html content aloud with dual color highlighting, Dictionary and Picture Dictionary to look up unfamiliar words, Translator to translate selected words into multiple languages, Study Skills to highlight and extract important pieces of information, and Fact Finder to research on the web. Users can also control the speed of the reading voice.
  • eBook Reader – The innovative eBook Reader for Bookshare eBooks allows a user to log in to Bookshare, search for, open or save a Bookshare eBook, and read the book aloud with dual color highlighting. eBook Reader also provides access to the same support tools found in Read&Write Web as well as personalization options for reading and speech.
  • Speech – Designed for smaller mobile devices such as phones, Speech allows users to read aloud any typed or pasted text with color highlighting.
  • Dictionary – Another App meant for smaller devices, Dictionary allows users to look up typed or pasted words and get text definitions as well as image representations. Definitions can also be read aloud.

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