It’s easy to get distracted while reading text. Weird text formatting, random images, difficult-to-read font, and confusing words can all impact the reader’s experience, keeping them from fully understanding the text. Today, I will be sharing five tools that can simplify the reading experience, and that can be used in the classroom or with assistive technologies.
Microsoft Office Lens
Microsoft Office Lens is an app that acts as a portable scanner and makes digital copies of whiteboards, documents, business cards, and so much more. One of the awesome features is that text is automatically recognized using OCR technology. Text can be read out loud, added to a OneNote notebook, or added to Immersive Reader. Another great benefit is that VoiceOver will help the user position the document until it is perfectly aligned.
Immersive Reader is a free tool that is part of several Microsoft products. It strips away background images, confusing formatting, and other distractions and displays large, simple-to-read text that can be accessed with a variety of assistive technologies. If a user has any of the mobile apps installed, they can open documents and webpages in Immersive Reader, which I have used for PDF files on my iPad.
Mercury Reader by Postlight is a Google Chrome extension that alters the display of a webpage. Features like dark backgrounds, large text, and typefaces can be changed with the push of a button. A unique feature of the app is that it can also send text to a paired Amazon Kindle device, and it will use the Kindle’s built in readability settings. I really liked being able to send a Wikipedia article to my Kindle Fire so I could read it more easily. Mercury Reader is free and part of the Google Chrome store. The app requires permission to change webpages so that the program can read the text of the webpage
Like the Microsoft Office Lens app, the Scanmarker Air scans in text using an OCR scanner. However, the Scanmarker Air is a physical, wireless device that can connect to a computer, phone, or tablet. Text is scanned in, and then can be copied and pasted into another app. My favorite way to use it is scanning in text from books or magazines that may be difficult to photograph. The Scanmarker Air device can be purchased for $99 on Amazon.
Unlike the other apps, Rewordify formats text and web pages and simplifies difficult English, which can then be copied into other programs. I found that only 1 of the 75 words that the program changed in a sample article I tested was incorrect- the other 74 words flowed naturally in the article and made it easier to understand. If there is no need for the comprehension function, I highly recommend copying the text into Microsoft Word and creating an accessible document.
Rewordify uses the web browser, with no downloads or accounts needed to use the basic functions of the program. I like that it is also kid-friendly and easy to navigate, making it great for use in an elementary school classroom.
These five tools can do a lot to improve the readability of text, but there are still other factors that need to be considered, such as screen glare, whether a website is accessible, among others.
- Ten Ways to Reduce Eye Strain With Technology
- Seven Factors That Make Websites Accessible To The Visually Impaired
- My Eight Favorite Free Fonts For Print Disabilities
With these tips, you will be able to read text and websites more easily and for longer periods of time. I wish you the best of luck!