Assistive Technology Support for Students with Reading Difficulties
Supporting access to the curriculum and increasing capabilities for students with reading difficulties
There are many simple adjustments that can be made in Microsoft Word and Google Docs that might help students who struggle with reading.
- Background color - changing the background color may help a student with processing information on the screen. Microsoft Word | Google Docs
- Font color - changing the font color may help a student with processing information on the screen. Microsoft Word | Google Docs
- Text size - adjusting the text size may make text easier to read. Microsoft Word | Google Docs
- Page margins - adjusting page margins may help increase readability. Microsoft Word | Google Docs
- Line and paragraph spacing - adjusting line and paragraph spaces may help increase readability. Microsoft Word | Google Docs
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. Here's 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 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
- Speak Tool in Microsoft Office - The Speak tool is a built-in read aloud feature of Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
- 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. Video of FCPS Student Using Immersive Reader in the Classroom | Video Tutorial on Immersive Reader in Microsoft Edge Browser | Immersive Reader in Microsoft Word Tutorial | Immersive Reader in Microsoft OneNote Tutorial
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. For additional information on AIM-VA and to see if your child is eligible, please visit our Accessible Instructional Materials page.
- 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.
- Bookshare - Bookshare is another company that provides access to accessible books for students with print deficits. Bookshare is free to students who qualify.