Text-to-speech (TTS) aids, e-readers, and audiobooks improve reading fluency and comprehension by allowing students with reading challenges to focus more on the content and less on the actual mechanics of reading.
The ATI offers a number of options to support students with challenges related to reading. The most commonly used solutions are as follows:
Immersive ReaderFree TTS tool built into Word, OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and the Edge browser.
Natural ReaderCloud-based TTS solution supports auditory learners, students with learning disabilities, students with autism, and those where English is a second language.
Read&Write (Texthelp)Supports different learning styles (Example: Auditory & Visual), reading comprehension, writing & studying skills, English as a second language (ESL), and research.
Snap&Read (Don Johnston)TTS tool for Google Chrome, mobile devices (i.e., iPad), and more.
Organize notes, record lectures, type or write notes, to improve note taking skills, retention, and comprehension by allowing students to focus more on the course lecture content and less time taking notes.
The ATI offers a number of options to support students with notetaking. The most commonly used solutions are as follows:
Notetaking & Organizational Resources
GleanCloud-based note-taking platform (app versions are available on Android and iOS devices)
Microsoft OneNoteNote-taking and organization tool included in Microsoft 365
Livescribe SmartpensEffectively and efficiently record audio and written notes during a lecture, class, or group discussion
Otter.aiNote-taking tool that uses live transcription along with the recording of audio.
Writing aids assist students with planning and organizing tasks that support the writing process. Students with executive functioning challenges may struggle with sequencing of tasks, organization, planning, and cognitive flexibility. Deficits in these areas can oftentimes lead to paralysis when it comes to writing.
The ATI offers some options to support students with challenges related to writing. The most commonly used solutions are as follows:
The ATI offers a number of options to support students with visual impairments. This includes, but is not limited to, screen readers, screen magnification software, CCTVS, etc.
The most commonly used solutions are as follows:
Screen ReadersScreen readers support students, faculty, and staff who are blind or have low vision.
Magnification/CCTVsCCTV’s or video magnifiers are devices with a camera and video display used to increase the reading size of documents or objects.
Tactile GraphicsTactile graphics are raised surface representations of non-textual information, such as graphs, maps, or diagrams, allowing those who are visually impaired to better understand the content.
e-ReadersPortable devices that read electronic documents (i.e., ePUB, Word, PDF, etc.).
The ATI offers a number of options to support deaf and hard of hearing students. This includes, but is not limited to, FM amplification tools, live captioning support, and post-production captioning and transcription for public-facing and instructional video content.
Additional information can be accessed below:
FM SystemsPersonal FM systems are completely battery-powered and can be taken anywhere. The user simply gives the wireless transmitter to any presenter, instructor, work associate, or friend who they wish to hear.
Live Captioning/CART ServicesLive captioning/CART services support deaf/hard of hearing individuals with participation in live meetings and events.
Closed Captioning for VideosATI provides post-production captioning and transcription services for instructional videos and videos hosted on public-facing websites.
The Mason CARES guide offers instructors assistance with creating accessible instructional content. This resource provides guidance on making the learning platform more accessible, creating accessible instructional resources (i.e., documents, audio, video), making web conferencing sessions more user-friendly, and posting accessible social media content.
Consider the following resources in your course development process:
Blackboard ResourcesTips and resources to make your online courses more accessible.
Blackboard Ally for InstructorsBlackboard Ally is a tool that is built into Blackboard. It automatically checks your course for accessibility issues.
Web Conferences (i.e., Zoom, Bb Collaborate)Tips and resources for making your Zoom and Bb Collaborate sessions more accessible
Accessible DocumentsLearn how to make your Word, PPT, and PDF docs more accessible.
Instructional VideosLearn how to make your video and audio content more accessible.
Social Media AccessibilityLearn how to make your social media posts more accessible.
ATI offers resources for students, faculty, and staff to create and ensure equal access inside the classroom, on campus, and at home. One-on-one and group training on AT may be requested using our Request Services Form.
Choose from the options below to learn more about the different types of AT solutions available:
What is Assistive Technology?Learn more about assistive technology and how it helps individuals with disabilities.
AT Assessments & ReferralsThe ATI provides informal assistive technology (AT) assessments for faculty, staff, and students who may need the use of assistive technology.
Library AT LabsAssistive technology can be accessed at any of Mason's campus library locations.
Blackboard Ally for StudentsBlackboard Ally allows students to download document formats that fit their individual needs...learn more!
Tools for ReadingAT tools and resources to support your reading needs.
Tools for NotetakingAudio-recording tools and smartpens to support your note-taking needs.
Tools for WritingAT tools to support your writing needs.
Options for Typing with your VoiceAT tools to assist you converting voice dictation into text.
Tools for Individuals with Visual ImpairmentsMore information on screen readers, screen magnification, and tactile graphics.
Tools for Deaf or Hard of Hearing IndividualsLearn more about FM systems, post-production captions, and CART services
Accessibility Tools for Mac & iOSLearn more about Apple's built-in accessibility options.
Accessibility Tools for WindowsLearn more about the accessibility options built into Windows and Microsoft 365.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Accessibility Standards include guidelines to ensure that all electronic information, resources and services provided by Mason are accessible to people with disabilities. This includes, websites, online learning systems, software and hardware applications, telecommunications, desktop and portable computers.
The following information provides guidance on how to create accessible components for web and software applications in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act opens a new window and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 opens a new window. For additional information about meeting accessibility requirements, please contact the IT Accessibility Coordinator.
Major components included in accessibility guidelines include:
Creating Accessible ImagesLearn how to add alternative text descriptions for meaningful images.
Creating Accessible HyperlinksLearning how to create accessible hyperlinks.
Creating Accessible NavigationLearn how to add accessible navigational elements like headings, breadcrumbs, and skip navigation links.
Creating Accessible Form FieldsLearn how to make form fields accessible.
Creating Accessible TablesLearn how to make HTML tables accessible.
Creating Accessible Video & MultimediaLearn how to create accessible audio and video content.
Creating Accessible DocumentsLearn how to create accessible Word, PPT, and PDF documents.
Making Text Content AccessibleLearn about text content considerations like color contrast and page language.
Alternative text descriptions for complex images convey meaningful information to students with visual impairments who use screen readers.
Why is this important?
Screen reading applications do not interpret visual data. For that reason, it is important to provide alternative text descriptions for any content where the visual imagery is critical to understanding its meaning.
In Blackboard, do the following:
First, click the insert image icon in the content editor and then add your alternative text descriptions in the image description field.
What about decorative images?
Decorative images convey no meaningful information to the end user. They should be marked as such to ensure that screen reading applications skip them when reading through the course site.
To mark an image as decorative in Blackboard, do the following:
- First, repeat the steps listed above. Instead of adding an image description, leave the image description field blank. Click Insert. (PLEASE NOTE: You will be warned about inserting the image without adding an alternative text description. Click OK.)
- Click the HTML icon in the content editor.
- Once the HTML code view window opens, identify the tag corresponding to your image.
- Next add alt=”” in the code. Close the HTML code view window and click the Submit button.