Accessibility comes in many forms. What is accessibility? Overcoming or removing obstacles. In education, we mean overcoming or removing obstacles to learning. An accessibility tool typically is designed to address a specific obstacle, although some, like read aloud, address any number of causes of reading difficulties. Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, began with the realization that tools that were made to address specific barriers, like reading difficulties, can not only assist with other disabilities, like blindness, but can even benefit people we wouldn’t say have a disability, like how much easier it is to listen to a book than to rad one while running on a treadmill.
Microsoft has built an impressive collection of accessibility tools under the Immersive Reader umbrella, which is covering more and more of their apps and programs. Since they are available to any user, not just those with a documented disability, they are a great example of UDL. Use what you need to help yourself. The cornerstone of Immersive Reader, is read aloud.
We’re on Day 14 of 365 Ideas for Office 365. We have been delving into OneNote lately, first the drawing tools, and now Immersive Reader. Both of these (Draw and Immersive Reader) first appeared in OneNote and have since “gone mainstream” in apps like Word (IR and Draw) and Outlook (IR) and PowerPoint (Draw).
Read Aloud in Immersive Reader
Let’s review. Open a document or a page with text. Click on the View tab, then on Immersive Reader. Click the settings icon at the bottom to change speed or voice, and click the play button to begin read aloud. Pause as needed, and click anywhere to start read aloud from that word rather than from the beginning. (This is especially useful for articles, for example, that have extra information in the byline.) It’s that easy.
Since you can take a picture of anything and send it to OneNote, AND you can copy text from an image in OneNote, that means you can make any text from any source able to be read aloud with Immersive Reader in OneNote. Why not equip your students with this knowledge and make learning more accessible for them all?