Making Google Forms Accessible for Struggling Readers

Reposted with permission from blog.texthelp.com

In last week’s post I talked about how easy it is to create Google Forms to evaluate progress and listed a few reasons why you may want to create one. In this post I will be taking things a step further by showing you how to make those forms more accessible… For free!

Specifically I want to explain how to make Google Forms more accessible for struggling readers by adding text-to-speech. Text-to-Speech software allows your computer to do the reading so that struggling readers can focus on comprehending the content. While there are many different text-to-speech applications available, our focus will be on the free version of Read&Write for Google, which contains high quality voices and dual colour highlighting (meaning it highlights words as they are being read), both of which are critical for struggling readers.

Read the web features toolbar

Read&Write for Google is a Chrome extension that can be downloaded for free in the Google Chrome Web Store. Once downloaded you have access to many valuable features, including supports for Google Docs, PDFs, ePub files, web pages, and more. After 30 days, many features become premium. However, text-to-speech and single word translation tools remain free.

Once Read&Write for Google has been installed you will notice a small green Read&Write for Google icon in your address bar (see image below). To access Read&Write for Google while in a Google Form, simply click the icon and the floating toolbar shown above will appear.

Read&Write for Google Icon in address bar

There are two settings for text-to-speech on the toolbar. By default, the extension is set to “hover speech,” which means you just need to hover over text for it to begin reading. Hover speech can also be turned off. If you choose to do this, simply highlight text you wish to have read aloud and click the play button. Speech can be stopped any time by clicking the stop button. The image below shows a screenshot of text being read aloud with dual colour highlighting while in hover speech mode.

Read&Write for Google text to speech screenshot

While Read&Write for Google works great in Google Forms, it will also read most other websites you visit. This is great if you want to link to articles from your Google Form for students to read and respond to. Simply include the link in the form and ask students to click the Read&Write for Google icon once on the new web page. The floating toolbar will appear and can be used the same as described above.

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About Jason Carroll

Jason first learned of Assistive Technology while working on his undergraduate degree where much of his spare time was spent assisting a regional education centre with basic technology needs. Amazed at how this technology could benefit so many students (particularly those he grew up with) he was hooked and immediately became an expert at the centre. After receiving his Masters, Jason returned to the coop to serve as a full time Assistive Technology Consultant serving over 200 schools in the central Kentucky Region.

Since this time, Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specialises in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration.

Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

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