By Kori Hamilton and Elaine Mulligan
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
Here, at NICHCY, we try to be keep our website user friendly and accessible. Our website is easy to navigate, compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, written in plain language, and translated into Spanish. As much as those things contribute to our ability to provide information to a vast audience, there are still many web users who struggle with text. According to a 2013 study, 21% of Americans read below a 5th-grade level. So, in an effort to better serve the user who struggles with text for whatever reason, we have added a new feature–ReadSpeaker®!
What is ReadSpeaker®?
ReadSpeaker® is a feature that allows users to listen to our web content and follow along with highlighted text. This not only helps low-literacy users and those with dyslexia, but can be useful for any user who has trouble reading text online or on the screen of a smartphone or tablet. As a user, you don’t have to download anything! The functionality of the feature is embedded in the web page.
How does ReadSpeaker® work?
Our fun new toy is easy to use and has a lot of great features. Simply click the Listen button to activate ReadSpeaker®. An audio player will appear, and the program will start reading the webpage. The text is also highlighted while it is being read, so you can follow along if you’d like. Within the player you can pause, restart the reading, stop the reading, navigate in the audio, adjust the volume, and more! If you do not want to listen to the entire page, just select the part you do want to listen to, and then press the pop-up Listen button that appears next to the mouse pointer.
¡Tambien puede escuchar en español! You can also listen in Spanish!
We offer a wide variety of resources in Spanish, so we equipped our español pages with a Spanish-speaking voice and an Escuchar button. Spanish-speaking web users can enjoy this feature, and those wanting to learn Spanish can work on their pronunciation and listening comprehension!
There’s always help available
Simply click on the Help with Listen Feature link underneath the Listen button. It’s on nearly every page of our site (not the Home page, though), and it’ll give you a pop-up window of ReadSpeaker® instructions. We’re still working on the Ayuda feature for our Spanish pages, so check back soon for that!