Those with print disabilities primarily struggle with reading and writing in a world where much of our information is created and available on electronic devices and the Internet. Audiobooks, text-to-speech software, and contextual spellcheckers are indispensable tools to have on hand. Fortunately, these types of tools have improved and multiplied in recent years. Here are a few of the best options:
- Bookshare: Free to all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities, it includes a repository of over 300,000 audiobooks—including textbooks, teacher-recommended reading, and periodicals—which can be used online, along with free AT tools. The texts can also be presented visually, with highlighting, larger font, accompanying audio, and physical or digital braille.
- NaturalReader: This online and/or downloadable software can take any text input—Word files, PDFs, webpages, emails, etc.—and create and audio transcription with multiple voices. The downloadable software can be paired with other applications to read any text encountered. The program can also create audio files of text for portability and later listening, as well as transcribe paper text imported via a scanner.
- Dragon Naturally Speaking : Dragon is the leading software for speech recognition and dictation. It is available as computer software and as an app. It can be used to write documents, emails, search the web, and even control your computer or smartphone.
(Contributor: Caroline Martin, Research Assistant, American Institutes for Research)