Assistive Technology Support for Students with Reading Difficulties

Supporting access to the curriculum and increasing capabilities for students with reading difficulties

Microsoft Word and Google Docs Strategies

There are many simple adjustments that can be made in Microsoft Word and Google Docs that may help with the readability of documents for students with reading difficulties.

Fonts

The font in which text is presented can make a difference in how well students are able to differentiate among letters. Fonts that have distinct shapes and minimize extra flourishes tend to be easier for students to read, such as sans-serif fonts. Learn how to change the font in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

There are also free fonts available that have been designed specifically for increased readability. 

Text-to-Speech Readers

Text-to-speech readers convert text on a computer screen to spoken words to be read aloud to a student. 

Natural Reader - Natural Reader is a text-to-speech program that will read aloud text. Natural Reader is available on FCPS computers via AppV in the user's "My Applications" folder. If Natural Reader is not listed in the user's "My Applications" folder, please contact your school's Technology Support Specialist (TSSpec). The free version of Natural Reader can be downloaded for use at home. The Chrome extension for Natural Reader has also been approved for FCPS student use. Video Tutorial on Natural Reader | Video Tutorial on the Natural Reader Chrome Extension | AT Ambassador Student Video Tutorial on Natural Reader

Read Aloud/Speak Tool in Microsoft Office - The Read Aloud/Speak tool is a built-in read aloud feature of Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Students can use the Read Aloud/Speak tool to listen to their written text for any spelling or grammar errors. Speak Tool in Microsoft Office | Read Aloud in Word for Microsoft 365 and Word 2019 | Video Tutorial on How to Add the Read Aloud Tool to the Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Office

Immersive Reader - Immersive reader is a free tool from Microsoft that uses proven techniques to help improve reading.  The program reads text aloud, spaces words, breaks down syllables and parts of speech.  It also translates, provides, definitions and pictures and visually simplifies the page.  It can be used in many programs such as Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Word, One Note and Excel. AT Ambassador Student Video on Immersive Reader in the Classroom | Video Tutorial on Immersive Reader in Microsoft OfficeVideo Tutorial on Immersive Reader in Microsoft Edge Browser | Immersive Reader in Microsoft Word Tutorial | Immersive Reader in Microsoft OneNote Tutorial 

Online Text Tools

Text Compactor - Text Compactor is a free online text summarizer. After typing or pasting text into the provided text box, the user can select the percentage of summarization. Text compactor will provide a summary of the text that could then be read aloud by a separate screen reader, such as Natural Reader.

Rewordify - Rewordify is an online tool that will simplify text. Words that are simplified are highlighted on the screen. The user can click on the highlighted words to see and hear the original word.  

Accessible Materials

Fairfax County Public Schools Library Online Resources, Databases and eBooks - These databases and eBooks are centrally purchased for the use of all Fairfax County Public Schools students and staff. Many schools purchase additional databases. Please see your school's librarian for more information. Home access requires a password. See your librarian for a password list.

Accessible Instructional Materials-VA (AIM-VA) - AIM-VA provides accessible instructional materials to eligible Virginia K-12 students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and are unable to access traditional print. AIM-VA Eligibility Requirements 

Learning Ally - Learning Ally provides members access to audiobooks, including literature selections. Some students may qualify for access to Learning Ally books through AIM-VA or schools may purchase school memberships. Parents may also purchase a individual membership. Users can access their audiobooks by using Learning Ally's audiobook app for computer, smartphone or tablet. Learning Ally's Audiobook App and User Guides | AT Ambassador Student Video Tutorial on Learning Ally

Bookshare - Bookshare provides access to accessible books for students with print deficits. Bookshare is free to students who qualify. To register for an individual or organizational membership, please visit Bookshare's Sign Up page.

Check out the reading resources section on our Technology Tools to Support All Learners page for school based technology tools.
Technology Tools to Support All Learners

For information on dyslexia, resources and online training for parents, please visit Fairfax County Public Schools' Dyslexia Information page.
Dyslexia Information