THERE ARE A SLEW of reading programs and assistive reading and writing technology in the market; however, it takes a lot of research and time to figure out whether these programs are worth your money. I recommend visiting these sites and either downloading the demo, ordering a demo dvd, or calling the company for a demo. Some programs sound terrific in writing, but are completely different when you use them. And sometimes there is nothing remedial or assistive about the actual program. So do your research. During grad school, I completed a project on assistive technology for struggling readers and researched many of these same programs. They are not all created equal! I’ve broken them down into categories here for ease in reading. Follow the links for more information.
TEXT TO SPEECH SOFTWARE
This software allows readers to select words, passages, or entire books and articles to be read aloud by a synthesized voice. Students are given immediate assistance for words they have trouble decoding—this has a direct effect on improving fluency.
This software allows readers either to read into a microphone and have their speech recorded and written into word processing software, or write onto the keyboard and have their writing spoken aloud for them as they are writing.
LOW AND MID TECH READING SUPPORTS
This equipment/software/devices allow students to have easier access to reading. Many of them range from $5 to $250—relatively easy to buy.
*** Links from this point on have not been checked or edited …
OCR SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS (Optical Character Recognition):
This software scans just about any document so that students can a) magnify it b) print it out to highlight or write on or c) use with Text-to Speech Software for reading assistance. If you have a scanner, you probably downloaded the OCR software when you installed your scanner.
SCREEN READING APPLICATIONS:
This software reads anything and everything displayed on a screen from PDF files to advertisements found on the Internet. Ideally this is for people with visual impairments, but can be used with severely reading disabled students.
E-TEXT ACCESS AND RESOURCES:
E-Texts are any text using an alternate format that can be downloaded or read online. Can be used in conjunction with Screen Reading Applications and Text to Speech Applications.
AUDIO BOOKS FOR MP3 OR IPOD
Similar to recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, but files are directly linked to an audio source for repeated use. Students can read along with textbooks, novels, reference materials, and nonfiction materials.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY WRITING RESOURCES ON THE WEB
Portable Word Processors
Auditory Word Processing Software
Word Prediction Programs
Organizational/Outlining/Drafting Software and Resources
Scanning Software with Form Filling