Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Assistive Software and Technology for Disabled Students - Readit


A small team of staff from CICS, DDSS and Library Services have been working over the last few years to establish a platform for different software and technology for disabled students within the University. There are now various software available on the managed desktop or individual machines in several of the libraries http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/library/services/assistech , and also equipment such as CCTV magnifiers http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/library/services/textmagnifier

One software in particular is especially designed for low vision and blind users to access texts in the library quickly and independently. Equipped with its own scanning camera, Readit will capture reading materials at speeds up to 20 pages per minute, and then convert the captured information into a personalised viewing style or document format for instant text to speech output.

The text display options include magnification levels, choice of font, and text and background colour. The reading options include a choice of voices and speed of speech. There are various export options including Microsoft Word, rich text format, PDF, plain text and MP3. The Readit software also works with documents already in electronic format so, for example, it can enlarge and read aloud a Microsoft Word document or a PDF. Readit can fluently read different languages and also accurately scan books where text would usually be distorted because of the thickness of the book spine. We also have a site licence for Lex which is very similar software to Readit, designed for students with a Specific Learning Difficulty such as Dyslexia and Dyspraxia to be able to reformat text into a format to enhance their reading speed and accuracy.

The software has been developed by Vision Aid Technologies over the last few years and the University is the first higher education institution in the country to have a Readit site licence.

Readit is currently available in the IC, Western Bank and Royal Hallamshire Hospital libraries, and the Wand camera available on request.

Jayne Woodward
Disability Adviser
DDSS

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