A couple of days ago, a student messaged me saying that they needed to read information in large print on an iPad, and mentioned that they had trouble seeing the largest font size for Dynamic Text. While they are currently learning how to use screen magnification tools and text-to-speech, they needed a short-term solution for reading large amounts of larger print without having to mess with a bunch of different apps or settings. I ended up helping them set up a teleprompter app so that they would be able to read text, which ended up working out really well. Here are my tips for ways to use teleprompter apps as assistive technology, and how they can be beneficial for low vision learners.
What is assistive technology?
The Technology-Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Tech Act) defines an assistive technology device as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” The Tech Act also defines an assistive technology service as “any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device.”
By this definition, a teleprompter app can be used as assistive technology for people with disabilities, even if they aren’t traditionally used for tasks related to assistive technology, because these types of apps can be used to help people with low vision complete tasks associated with reading and writing.
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Examples of teleprompter apps/websites
Some of the different free teleprompter apps/teleprompter websites I have used in the past include:
- Teleprompt.online website
- Promptr.co website
- Teleprompter Lite for iOS
- Teleprompter for iOS
- Teleprompter for Android
Both of the websites listed work across a variety of devices and internet browsers and do not require any accounts to use. I tested them on my Android phone and iPad and had no significant issues with using them.
Reading text in very large print
Possibly the most obvious use for a teleprompter app or website is for reading text in very large print that is optimized for display on a smaller screen. Instead of using screen magnification to enlarge text (which may not be enough in some cases), users can copy and paste text into a teleprompter app and display text in a variety of different print sizes- anywhere from 20 to over 200, depending on the app/website being used. While users should not strain their eyes in order to read text, this is a great solution for users who can read text on their own, as long as it is in large print.
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Using as a script during presentations/talks
Yes, teleprompters are designed to be used as a script or reading aid, but they can be especially beneficial for users with low vision. Instead of having the teleprompter app set up several feet away, users can instead hold the device and have it display text that they can reference when giving a presentation or talk, similar to using a simplified reading view (more on that later). I’ve used a teleprompter app to display my notes during a talk and prefer it to a traditional text file because the text automatically scrolls and I can have the font large enough so that I don’t have to hold the screen closer to my face to read what’s on the screen.
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Displaying text in a simplified format
I love using apps and extensions such as Microsoft Immersive Reader, Pocket, and built-in reading views to display text in a simplified format that can be read in large print or with different colored backgrounds. However, teleprompter apps and websites can be a great tool for displaying text in a simplified format as well, since many tools allow for customizing fonts, backgrounds, and scrolling speed so that users can easily follow along with text. Plus, the backgrounds and font combinations are often optimized for accessibility and reading for long periods of time, since they include high-contrast displays and print disability-friendly fonts.
- Microsoft Immersive Reader Review
- Pocket App Accessibility For Visual Impairment
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- My Eight Favorite Free Fonts For Print Disabilities
- Choosing High Contrast Color Schemes For Low Vision
Keeping track of notes in large print
One of the apps the student mentioned having trouble using was the Notes app, since they had trouble reading a lot of the text that was written within the app. Since many teleprompter apps support storing multiple scripts/files, we decided to create several different files that they could use to read and write different notes for future reference. While the notes may not be perfect in terms of formatting, they can easily be copied into another app or displayed in large print.
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While most people don’t immediately think of teleprompters as assistive technology, they can be a versatile tool when coming up with short-term assistive technology solutions as they allow users to display information in very large print that can easily be read for longer periods of time. I hope that this post is helpful for others looking for temporary assistive technology solutions- discovering ways to use teleprompter apps and websites as assistive technology was incredibly helpful for me!