Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Read&Write 4 Gold for Mac. The first nine features.

Adele here on Read&Write 4 Gold for Mac
(Doesn't that strike you as an unfortunate clump of words for someone with reading and writing difficulties?)

Video tour of Tool Bar
The cool thing about the R&W tool bar is this: it can "float" around in other programs. So you're somehow in two programs at the same time. No, not like having more than one window or tab open. They are both open at the same time in the same screen. This can be rather annoying when one is a grad student flicking from R&W to Preview to NeoOffice to Firefox and so on, but you get used to it. If you are staying in one program, it's really not a problem.
 The Tool Bar can also work independently outside another program. Click on the button, and a word processing space appears below the Tool Bar.

The tool bar is infinitely customizable. Unfortunately for me, who can read, but has bad eyes, I can't really see those little icons. But your kids will be able to.

Text to Speech
The totally cool part.

Video tour of Text to Speech.
Read to me! Use these buttons to turn your written text into an audio recording. Choose your voice, speed, pitch. Read by the letter, word, sentence or paragraph. Watch those letters, words, sentences and paragraphs get highlighted for you in jewel tones! Or customize to choose your own colours. Plus, you can teach it to pronounce proper names correctly, in case of disagreement.

Phonetic Spell Checker

Video tour of Phonetic Spell Checker
The Windows version is a plain-old spell-checker. Hmmmm....

Rather like your regular old spell-checker, except it answers the perennial question--if you can't spell it, how do you know which is the correct spelling? This Spell Checker not only points out possible errors, it provides suggested correct words which it will read aloud to you. If you're still not sure, it will provide definitions of the suggestions, which it will also read aloud to you! If, however, you are pronouncing things wrong, you may be out of luck. It did not offer me the possibility of "predict" when I typed "perdik," which I'm sure many students would do.

Word Prediction

Video tour of Word Predict

Word Predict is the way cool writing feature. As you start typing, you are offered suggestions for possible words. The choices are narrowed for each letter you type. Much like the Spell Checker, you can hear the suggestions, and see and hear definitions of them.

You can also add your own words. Astonishingly enough, "Megann" is not defined in the dictionary.


 Video tour of Dictionary.

Besides being part of other features such as Word Predict and Spell Checker, the Dictionary can also be used on its own. As you might expect there is a thesaurus function, but it provides not only synonyms, but other related information, such as antonyms, phrases, parts, types. You can also add definitions, and when connected to the Internet, you are linked to Dictionary.com.

No idea what inspired me to choose this word.

Homophone Checker

Video tour of Homophone Checker for Mac.

Once students have used the other tools to provide them with the right-sounding words with their correct spellings, they can check to see if they have incorrectly used homophones. When the Homophone Checker is selected, any possible homophones are highlighted. For each one, students can check the definitions and sample sentences to ensure they select the correct word. Customizing allows you to ignore some homophones, which is handy if you don't want to check every "the" that you type.

Screenshot Reader

Video tour for Screenshot Reader.

Screenshot Reader provides access to non-text text. No, really. Let's say you have something that looks like text, but is actually an image, Screenshot Reader can access it for you. In other words, if Text to Speech, PDF Aloud or Read Safari Web Content are not working for you, Screenshot Reader is your last resort. This should be especially handy with non-searchable PDF documents and other graphic formats, like JPEGs.

Given the myriad of obscure file formats, silly fonts, ill-chosen colours, irritating wallpaper, over-imaginative logos--ETC--out there, I can't imagine that this feature will always work.

Check out the JPEG below. Open Read&Write and click on the button.

Speech Maker

Video tour of Speech Maker
You can use Speech Maker to create audio files in MP3 format. Click here on this button. Choose the voice, volume and speed. Now your students can listen to Vicky read their documents  over and over! For the Mac version at least, you need to have iTunes on your computer in order to convert the files.


Video tour of Scanning.

Read&Write provides a number of tools for accessing difficult-to-access text. Like Screen Shot Reader, PDFaloud, and Read Safari Web Content, Scanning is one of these tools. Scanning allows students to take a book or worksheet, scan it, and have it read aloud.

Select your options from the Tool menu, and then click .


    1. It's funny you should say that about the tool bar. I thought the exact same thing! I found the icons hard to see. It actually frustrated me once or twice. Maybe I need to look at a new prescription for the old glasses.

    2. At this moment I'm having a hard time understanding the text to speech feature. It sounds a little disjointed to me and I wonder if this would impact students with regards to their fluency when they read? For example, in one of the video tutorials it was reading the word volcanic. I struggled to understand what was being said and I found that I lost the thread of the article. It's good that there is a feature in which you can rewind and listen to a section again.

    3. It's funny you should say that. I tried to change the voice feature, just to hear the differences, and I couldn't. I wonder about the choppiness, if students would be distracted by it.