assistivetech · dyslexia · dyslexiatech · learning disabilities · technology

.@TextHelp innovating the world of accessibility in edtech: Part 1: Read&Write for Google


I have to admit, the tools from TextHelp have me considering Chromebooks.  I am a big fan of the iPad for my LD students.  The built in accessibility and range of apps available are crucial for addressing a broad range of needs and building independence. Yet, TextHelp keeps finding its way into my Chrome browser and singing their praises.

TextHelp has been around for awhile as a powerhouse in the field of educational technology to support those who need accessibility features and learning support. Read and Write Gold the first foray I had into their tools, was a powerhouse desktop software. This software is available as a Chrome extension: Read and Write for Google.  There is a 30-day free trial for all the premium features.  Then an annual subscription costs $145 to keep all those features. If you don’t pay for the subscription,  you will always have access to their Text to Speech, Translator and Practice Reading Aloud features.

Teachers receive a free annual subscription when signing up with an educational email!

What does it do:

Read&Write for Google puts an icon in the toolbar that, when activated opens this toolbar. Here is a simple explanation of the features in order from left to right.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.59.26 PM.png

  • Word prediction: when creating a document, this will open a word prediction window
  • Hover speech: hover over a line and the text-to-speech activates
  • Dictionary: click on a word and it will provide a definition if one is available
  • Picture dictionary: provides a visual for the meaning of a word if one is available
  • Play: text to speech for the whole page
  • Pause: pause the playback of text being read aloud
  • Stop: fully stops playback
  • Screenshot reader: lets you read inaccessible text
  • Speech Maker: converts text to an MP3
  • Screen Mask: screen is tinted and a bar is moveable to focus on areas of the screen
  • Speech Input: Speech-to-Text
  • Study Skills set:
    • 4 Highlighters: highlight text online
    • Broom: clears highlights
    • Color circle: collect highlights and export to a Google Doc
  • Vocabulary: select words to create a vocabulary list that is exported to a Google Doc with definitions and picture icons when available
  • Simplify page: open an article, and with this tool you can simplify and declutter the article
  • Practice Reading Aloud: Fluency Tutor comes to the Read & Write toolbar.  Students can hear text and then record themselves reading aloud.

This is a simple list of what is available, but to learn more about the power of each of these awesome TextHelp Read&Write for Google tools, check out their YouTube Channel.  There is a great demonstration of each of these features. Any student with learning differences, who uses a laptop or Chromebook, should have the extension available to them.

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