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Read&Write Gold is just one of the assistive technology
tools currently available
For many students with intellectual and learning difficulties,
reading and writing can be quite difficult. Often, the planning and
organising as well as the ability to express themselves in writing can
be extremely stressful. This can lead to difficulties in accessing
education, training as well as employment opportunities.
The good news is that for some of these students, better access and
participation can be facilitated by the Texthelp-developed software
Read&Write Gold. However, to ensure that this tool is utilised to
its full potential, it's important that the specialist disability
teacher who's trained to use it provides a systemized and
differentiated teaching approach.
Read&Write Gold is already currently available on student
computers in some TAFE NSW campuses. The software's user-friendly
interface doesn't draw unwanted attention to the student who may
already feel uncomfortable about being further stigmatised. Its
floating toolbar sits on top of an open windows page or a PDF and can
be modified and adjusted to suit the individual needs of the user.
Many students seem to like the software's ability to convert text
from either the web or document format into speech. This can then be
saved as an audio file, which the student can access on their iPhone
afterwards in the privacy of their own home. This is a huge benefit
for students who prefer to (or may need to) listen to information more
than once. This conversion feature effectively eliminates the anxiety
and frustration that comes from reading. Needless to say, this can be
extremely empowering for a student, increasing their motivation and
giving them a newfound sense of control over their course work.
There are many other interesting features of Read&Write Gold.
These include a picture dictionary, screen masking which blocks out
any text that isn't being read, word prediction and the ability to
create digital print by scanning books into MS Word, PDF or HTML
formats. The ability to convert fixed text into digital text allows
the student the choice of reading it aloud or saving it as an audio file.
Advances in technology mean that print is no longer fixed on a page
but can be manipulated. This increased flexibility means that students
with different disabilities and learning styles can fully participate
in class. Although not the panacea, Read&Write Gold is just one of
the assistive technology tools currently available that make this
increased access and participation possible.