iPads and Accessible Instructional Materials
50 Great iPad Apps For Kids With Reading Disabilities Who Need AIM
Educational website, Edudemic, has a great list of iPad apps for students with reading disabilities, and there are several on the list that would benefit a student with a print disability as well. Here are a few of the stand outs, with Edudemic’s descriptions of each app:
- Prizmo: With Prizmo, users can scan in any kind of text document and have the program read it out loud, which can be a big help to those who struggle with reading.
- Blio: Blio offers all the same features of any basic e-reader, and also a few things that make it unique. Through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view, the app helps those with reading disabilities make sense of the text, something many other similar apps don’t offer.
- Read 2 Me: For those who have difficulty reading, apps like Read 2 Me can be a godsend. The app comes complete with an entire library of texts, all of which can be read out loud.
- Read2Go: If you use DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) books in your classroom, Read2Go is one of the best and most accessible ways to read those books on iOS.
- Audiobooks: Sometimes students with reading disabilities might just want a break from reading books the old fashioned way. That’s why this amazing collection of free audiobooks can come in handy, offering access to classics like Romeo and Juliet and Treasure Island.
- Reading Trainer: While this app is designed to help average readers boost their reading speed and ability, it can be useful to those who struggle as well, as many of the skills taught can help just about anyone become a more confident reader.
- eReading series: The eReading series from Brain Integration LLC, helps young readers at all levels of proficiency learn about topics like Greek Mythology and Gulliver’s Travels. Users can have the book read to them, or practice reading without the help, too.
Use Multi-Touch Gestures To Read iBooks with VoiceOver On Your iPad
VoiceOver and iBooks is a great combination for providing text to speech and print books to students or adults with print disabilities. VoiceOver comes built right in to the iOS operating system, and iBooks is the only eReader app that works with VoiceOver without fail.
Here’s how to get the two to work together, and a quick cheat sheet on using VoiceOver to read books to you or your students.
First, you need to enable VoiceOver. Tap on the Settings App, and then tap on the General tab on the left. Scroll down to the Accessibility tab, and tap there. Tap on VoiceOver (at the top), and toggle it to ON. Once you do that, you’ll need to use VoiceOver gestures to navigate around.
Click the Home button on your iPad, then tap once on your iBooks icon to select it, then double-tap anywhere on the screen to launch it. If iBooks is not on your main home page, swipe right or left to navigate to the screen where iBooks is at, then tap once to select, then double tap to launch.
When iBooks is launched, you should go to your main Bookshelf, unless you were reading a book already. If so, you’ll go right to the last page you were reading. To open a book, tap on it, then double tap to open it.
By default, VoiceOver will being reading a book once opened. To stop the reading, tap once with two fingers. To start reading again, swipe down with two fingers to start reading from the current position, or swipe up to start reading from the top of the screen. To turn the page, swipe left with three fingers, like turning the page of a book. To go back a page, swipe right with three fingers.
To hear what page you’re on, tap once with three fingers. To select and speak the very top item of the screen, typically the button that will take you back to your Library of iBooks, tap on the top half of the iPad screen with four fingers. To select and speak the very last item on the page, usually the number of pages left in the chapter, tap with four fingers on the bottom of the screen. Double tap to activate either item when selected.
Here’s a list of navigation gestures from the iPad User Manual, available online.
Navigate and read
• Tap: Speak the item.
• Swipe right or left: Select the next or previous item.
• Two-finger tap: Stop speaking the current item.
• Two-finger swipe up: Read all from the top of the screen.
• Two-finger swipe down: Read all from the current position.
• Two-finger “scrub”: Move two fingers back and forth three times quickly (making a “z”) to
dismiss an alert or go back to the previous screen.
• Three-finger swipe up or down: Scroll one page at a time.
• Three-finger swipe right or left: Go to the next or previous page (such as the Home screen
• Three-finger tap: Speak additional information, such as position within a list or whether text
• Four-finger tap at top of screen: Select the first item on the page.
• Four-finger tap at bottom of screen: Select the last item on the page.
Source: Software with Style
Read Aloud Accessibility – Enable VoiceOver On Your iPad
If you have an iOS device, you have an amazing, built-in accessibility function called VoiceOver. It uses the same voice that powers the well-advertised Siri personal digital assistant. VoiceOver was designed to help those with visual impairments use their iPhones and iPads without having to see the screen at all. It provides auditory feedback for everything on the screen, including app icons, hardware buttons, and the Apple-created apps on the iPad, like iBooks.
Students with reading or print disabilities can use VoiceOver, too, though. They can turn on VoiceOver and let their iPad read out loud while they follow along with their eyes. This bi-modal method of input has been shown to benefit kids with print disabilities in getting more information out of their textbooks and other instructional materials.
To turn VoiceOver on
- Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen and then tap General.
- Tap Accessibility.
- In the Accessibility dialog, tap the VoiceOver button.
- In the VoiceOver dialog, tap the VoiceOver On/Off button to turn it on.
- The first time you turn on the feature, you’ll see a dialog noting that turning on VoiceOver changes gestures used to interact with iPad. Tap OK to proceed.
- Tap the Practice VoiceOver Gestures button to select it, and then double-tap to open it. (This is the new method of tapping that VoiceOver activates.)
- It’s important that you first single-tap to select an item such as a button, which causes VoiceOver to read the name of the button to you. Then double-tap the button to activate its function. (VoiceOver reminds you to do this if you turn on Speak Hints, which is a help when you first use VoiceOver but gets annoying quickly.)
- Tap the Speaking Rate field, and VoiceOver speaks the name of the item.
- If the voice speaks too slowly or too quickly, double-tap the slider and move the slider to the left to slow it down or the right to speed it up.
- If you’d like VoiceOver to read words or characters to you (for example, in the Notes app), double-tap Typing Feedback.
- In the Typing Feedback dialog, tap to select the option you prefer.
- The Words option will read words but not characters, such as the dollar sign. The Characters and Words option reads both.
You can change the language that VoiceOver speaks. In General settings, choose International, then Language, and select another language. This will, however, also change the language used for labels on Home icons and various settings and fields in iPad.
Create Your Own Accessible Books On The iPad With Pictello
There are many commercial and government funded sources for textbooks and other print materials out there, but sometimes it’s just best to do it yourself. Pictello is a great iPad (and iPhone) app that allows you to create your own stories, complete with audio, text, pictures, and video.
From the App Store description:
Pictello is a simple way to create talking photo albums and talking books. Each page in a Pictello Story can contain a picture, up to five lines of text, and a recorded sound or text-to-speech using high-quality voices. Stories can be shared using iTunes File Sharing or via WiFi with other Pictello users through a free account on the Pictello Sharing Server. Stories can be shared with non-Pictello users as PDF files through email or iTunes File Sharing.
Grab a (short) book to modify, preferably one with many pictures and a few words, to start.
Then, download and launch Pictello with a tap on your iPad. Next, tap the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. Choose Wizard for this tutorial.
Give the story a title, and hit the little speaker icon to the left to hear how it sounds. When you’re satisfied with the title, tap Done on the iPad keyboard, then the right arrow in the bottom right-hand corner.
Choose a cover picture for your story with a tap on the picture frame. You can choose a photo from your Photo Library, or you can take a Photo with your iPad camera. Choose Take Photo, and take a picture of your book’s cover. Pinch and drag the image around until it fits the picture area the way you want it to. Tap the Use button, then tap the arrow in the lower right again.
Tap Choose a voice and then tap on the voice, Tracy or Ryan, that you want to use with your story. Tap the left arrow in the bottom left corner to go back to your options. When you’ve finished choosing a voice, tap the bottom right arrow again.
Tap the Add A Page button, tap the picture frame again, and take a photo of your first page in the book that you want to include in your Pictello story. Use the same steps as adding the cover photo, above. When you finish choosing a picture, tap the lower right arrow again.
Tap into the Top Label area, and type in the words for your first page. If there are many of them, continue in the Bottom Label area, as well. Tap the Done button when finished adding text to each Label area. You can tap on the small speaker icon to the left of your text to hear what it will sound like. Tap the right arrow again.
You now will see the Sound options page. You can tap the No Sound button to have nothing read aloud to your student, the Choose a Voice option to have the synthesized iPad voice read the story, or Make a Recording to record the text yourself. Tap the Choose a Voice button, pick a male or female voice, and then tap the lower right-hand arrow once more.
You will now be at the main options page. Using the steps outlined above, continue to Add A Page until all of your book is completely created. When you have finished adding all the pages you want, tap Done With Story. Your new story will be in the Pictello Library, ready to share with others or read by your student.
iPad vs Nook eReader: Accessibility for People with Visual Impairments
A blind access technology specialist at the National Federation of the Blind demonstrates the vast differences in accessibility between the Nook Simple Touch and the iPad 2.
vBookz Text To Speech On The iPad
I’ve always felt that it was shortsighted for eBook readers to merely try to emulate the traditional book experience. Sure, it’s fun to see the page curl as you swipe the screen, etc., but for eReaders to really take off, they need to leverage their technology and offer advantages that a traditional book cannot. vBookz, $4.99 from Mindex International, is an attempt to do just that, with an eBook reader that reads out loud, using Text-to-Speech.
vBookz boasts access to an impressive 30,000 books, but don’t expect the latest New York Times bestsellers. These are public domain texts, typically from Project Gutenberg, including such classics as the Wizard of Oz, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Through the Looking Glass, Frankenstein and Gulliver’s Travels. Amazon’s Kindle tried to offer text-to-speech capability for their modern eBooks. As you might imagine, publishers objected since they also sell audiobooks and were afraid of missing out on royalties.
What a great opportunity for kids with print and other learning disabilities. I hope this takes off and becomes more of a standard experience across consumer devices.