These programs combine several functionalities such as TTS, STT, word prediction, specialized dictionaries and different kinds of e-text annotation. Many have OCR capabilities so “inaccessible text,” such as text in pictures or locked PDFs, can be read. Most are compatible with a variety of e-text formats so a student can import an e-book, a web article, a Google doc or a text from Bookshare. Many support several languages. Most of these packages today have a web-based component as well as having downloadable software so they can be used on different devices easily. These are more complicated than the other one-task apps, so training is the key! Often the companies or college guidance offices will provide this if you ask.
A glossary to some of the features in the following descriptions:
- Word Prediction is where a little menu shows up with words that you can choose from as you are writing
- Echo typing is an automatic playback that you can set to read after each word, sentence or paragraph.
- Speaking spellchecker is where you can click on the word choices and hear them before you choose.
- Homophone checkers are for the words that look different but sound the same (for example: their, there, they’re) – they include definitions and will scan text and stop when they find a homophone so that the writer can check all the homophones in a piece they have written.
- Idea Maps or Webs allow you to make a brainstorm map of your information or ideas before you write.
- Voice notes are spoken word recordings
Kurzweil allows you to import or create text, at which point you can access TTS, highlighting and note taking (including voice notes), dictionary, word prediction, idea mapping, cross-out tool, can create audio file from text. Available for most platforms, including iOS. If your school owns the license it includes a free Firefly (web based access) account. Also has a customizable test-taking module that allows teachers to choose which AT features to allow during a test.
Texthelp – Read & Write
Toolbar floats over the desktop and reads or interacts with text in a variety of programs or formats.
TTS, highlighting and note taking (including voice notes), dictionaries, homophone checker, speaking spellchecker, word prediction, idea mapping, echo typing. Available for most platforms, including iOS and Chrome.
Snap and Read Universal and Co:Writer
Available as Chrome extensions or Software. Snap and Read provides TTS, highlighting and note taking, leveled reading, automated bibliographer, dictionary, and a teacher portal to view reading data. Works with Kindle Cloud Reader (on a laptop). Co:Writer provides word prediction, and STT. Has over 4 million topic dictionaries. Available for most platforms, including a limited one for iOS which is a version of Co:Writer.
ClaroRead is available for Mac, PC and Chromebooks. Limited versions are available for free for iOS and Chrome browser. There are a variety of features depending on which version you get. Includes TTS, dictionaries, homophone checker, speaking spellchecker, word prediction, idea mapping, echo typing.