New Chrome Extension Shifts the Accessible Text Paradigm

If I say “make the text accessible,” what pops into your head?

Probably an electronic format that lets you change the text’s presentation: making it bigger, changing colour, adding speech, highlighting-while-reading options, etc. Plus there are the tools that are used for improving comprehension and active reading — notes, graphic organizers, dictionaries/thesauri etc.

All of these can be employed by the reader independently or applied by an educator — setting reading goals, embedding questions, highlighting vocabulary and other strategies — to level text and maximize learning from reading.

A subscription to Snap&Read Universal (S&Ru) comes with a Windows and/or Mac desktop 2 button reader — one for Snap (converting inaccessible text to readable, accessible text) one for Read.  But the S&Ru’s Chrome extension has one new button that completely shifts the paradigm of what it means to make text accessible. SnapRead8 tool This button scaffolds meaning, on demand, within the text itself.

S&Ru looks for words that are hard to understand and embeds synonyms right in the text. Want to see the original word that was levelled? Look for the italics, hover your cursor on it or click: virtually instant, embedded levelling of text.  Don Johnston Inc., the manufacturer, calls it Dynamic Levelling.

Dynamic Text Levelling in Action

Here’s what it looks like on the Wikipedia page on DNA.

DNA Wiki with S&Ru extension tool-bar
Wikipedia page on DNA in Chrome web browser with Snap&Read Universal extension tool-bar on the right.

You click on the levelling button on the tool-bar….

By the way, Snap&Read is also a darn good text reader. The top button you see here will read e-text and the second button is a drag and release converter that will turn flash, images, inaccessible pdf text into readable text in seconds.  It does it instantly in Chrome without having to save to another file format. But back to the Dynamic Levelling…

…then you click the text you want to level.  If you click and drag to highlight a portion, it will just level what you select. But here we did the whole Wikipedia entry on DNA.

Snap and Read Universal has levelled the text, shown by italicizing.
Snap and Read Universal has levelled the text, shown by italicizing.

Now do you see the words that are italicized?  That’s what’s been levelled.

To see the original word just hover over it (above image) or…

Snap&Read shows you the original word by just clicking on the italicized levelled text or through a tool tip when you hover.
Snap&Read shows you the original word by just clicking on the italicized levelled text or through a tool tip when you hover (see previous image).

…click to revert to the original text.

To get all the details and see a video of Snap&Read Universal in action check out the link here.

http://www.bridges-canada.com/assistive-technology/Snap_and_Read_Universal.aspx

Why is this big?

For students transitioning to grade 8 and 9  and beyond, to achieve curricular goals, they have to glean more and more information from more and more complicated text.  That’s often where we lose struggling students even with a text reader accommodation.

Now specific curriculum vocabulary is what it is: in the example above, S&Ru didn’t try to level “neucleotides” or “carbohydrates.” But often the words used to explain the new curricular vocabulary and breakdown concepts are what stymies students.

Yes, of course there are dictionaries and there are words where a full dictionary definition will be invaluable. But Snap&Read Universal preserves context for the challenging vocabulary and preserves the reading momentum when a student is trying to build fluency. Often a student just needs clarification or a reminder of a word’s meaning rather than a full blown definition.  We know it’s usually too easy for students to just “skip” a challenging word and get tripped up by it over and over again. The Snap&Read Chrome extension enhances comprehension where and when the student needs it – right in the text.

And with the excellent click and drag targeting tool, you can convert inaccessible text – flash, pdf, image of text — to accessible text in a snap.  Now accessibility doesn’t just mean what the text looks and sounds like but how easy it is to understand and learn from.  And that is completely new.

The Snap&Read Universal’s Chrome extension comes with the Snap&Read Universal subscription.  It’s available as a tiered, per use license or unlimited license for school or district.

The new button in Snap&Read Universal’s Chrome extension is a deceptively simple tool that could prove to be a decisive shift in how we think of reading accessibility.

–Bogdan Pospielovsky

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