Saturday, October 22, 2011

Speech Input, Translator, PDF Aloud, Study Skills and Vocabulary List Builder for Mac

As I was going through these features again I was marvelling at the features and I was overwhelmed with the possibilities. I was reflecting on certain students in my students who would benefit from certain specific features of the program and also on myself and how that would have been rather helpful for me (especially when I was writing so many papers for my courses this past summer).

I can only really think that the cost of making this program accessible to all our students must be so prohibitive. However, I wonder what would be truly possible for our students if we were able to embrace technology.

SPEECH INPUT - This feature links MicroSoft Office with voice recognition speech-to-text in documents. Check to see if the microphone is in the correct position by using the wizard. This takes you through a step-by-step process. It is recommended that you do a lot of training to ensure that your speech will be as accurate as possible. Using the speech recognition feature, simply speak what you want to write and the text will be placed in a document.

PDF ALOUD -  If you open a PDF file using Adobe 9, PDF Aloud opens automatically. However, using Adobe 10, you need to select the PDF Aloud toolbar and open "Options" to access this feature. The PDF Aloud feature gives you options to play, rewind, forward, and stop text being read aloud. In the "Click and Speech" option, you can click a picture and text will be read aloud. You can choose having a word, sentence, or paragraph being read to you. You can also select the type of voice (pitch, speech, etc.) in the "Option" section. And you can also control the pronunciation of words.

TRANSLATION - Spanish, French, German, and Italian are options for documents (word, sentences, paragraphs, etc.) being translated. Click on the "Translation" icon and you can click on the word, etc. to hear the translation. You can click on "Preference" to change the language, colour, speed of voice, and font.

STUDY SKILLS AND VOCABULARY LIST BUILDER - This feature can be used both in Microsoft Word and Explorer. You have the options of using yellow, blue, green, or pink to highlight selected text. Perhaps the most exciting part of all of this is that you can collect the highlights that you have generated from your text and put them into a word document. You can also have the option to collect text from  multiple documents and put them in a word document.

Another exciting aspect of this feature is that you can create a vocabulary list by selecting any of the highlighted words. Using the vocabulary icon, the words that you have highlighted can be transferred to a document which will give a picture and definition of the words. This would be very helpful for teachers who have to create vocabulary lists or word banks for students for content material.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pronunciation Tutor

Video Tour of Pronunciation Tutor

  Pronunciation Tutor Icon Pronunciation Tutor: Shows how words are pronounced, will also show a moving mouth to show how it is pronounced. Can break words down into syllables so that it may be easier to pronounce. Will also give phonetics and other sample words.

Screen for Windows

Video Tour for Screen Masking
Screen Masking IconScreen Masking- Changes color of the screen. This can be adapted using several different options such as changing the color, transparency, alter thickness of underliner. Also gives a spotlight that will follow wherever your mouse goes. Can change the height of the spotlight.

Translator for Windows

Video Tour of Translator

Translator Icon      Translator-provides single word translation in many languages including German,French and Italian when connected to the internet. Just select the word you want translated. It can also read the word aloud in the given language. This tool will also translate paragraphs.

Speech Maker for Windows

This function allows the conversion of text to an audio file. The play back voice can be adjusted to suit the individual's needs. The feature is ideal for revising work at the end of the day on the way home from school. Once converted the audio file can be saved directly to the user's media player, e.g. MP3 player or iPod. You could convert text from a novel or magazine to listen to when relaxing or studying or you could even convert a script to audio format to help learn lines for a school play. Select a piece of text, then click icon to convert the text into a sound file. A little wizard will guide you through the conversion process.

Screenshot Reader for Windows

Most texts in any Windows application is easily accessible with Read&Write Gold and other assistive software. However, there are some programs which have not been designed with accessibility in mind. The Screenshot Reader removes the barriers in such documents. This means that the inaccessible text is now accessible. Click the icon and drag the mouse over any inaccessible text you wish to read, e.g. locked PDFs.

Text-to-Speech for Windows

The Text-to-Speech feature is one of the most fundamental support features in Read&Write 10 Gold. Text can be read as you type or from any document. It will read each word, sentence, paragraph or selected text. There is a choice of different voices which can be adjusted to suit you by altering the pitch, speed and volume. According to Texthelp, they have the most human-sounding voices (for whatever reason, I wasn't able to experience the different voices. The lovely Jane was all I was able to hear). You can choose the way the text is highlighted. Text can be colour highlighted in the document. By hearing your work aloud you will be able to identify mistakes in punctuation, spelling and meaning. Simply place the cursor where you wish the text to be spoken. Click the play icon to hear it aloud. If on a website, highlight the text first.