Posts Tagged ‘Assistive Technology’

Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for Spelling

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Are you looking for technology tools aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for spelling? This matrix lists multiple options and provides live links for further information about each tool. You may access further information at


Download the Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations in Spelling PDF document below.

Also, don’t miss the  Lunch and Learn FREE Technolgy Webinar

Topic:  Type 2 Technology Tools for Spelling

Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Time:  12 noon to 1pm

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:




Doing More With Less: Make MS Word Work for YOU (and your students, too)

Monday, December 12th, 2011

I haven’t met one teacher yet this year who doesn’t feel stretched beyond thin by trying to meet instructional demands with less resources.  With money being tight and the continued and important need to differentiate for diverse learning needs, if I told you that there were tools within Microsoft Word (therefore free) that would make YOUR life easier AND also help out students, you’d want to read on, right?

Okay, well, so as not to overwhelm with every helpful feature Microsoft Word offers, in this posting let’s focus on MS Word’s tools for reading.


  • There are students in your class that are not quite reading on grade level.
  • There are students in your class for whom English is not their first language.
  • There are students in your class who, albeit very infrequently, are off task.
  • There are students in your class who might be absent.
  • There are students in your class who might be pulled out for various reasons or activities.
  • Your students have the occasional need to read. J
  • There are students in your class who require directions, tests, or assignments to be read aloud.
  • You have students who need these directions, tests or assignments read aloud and repeated multiple times.
  • You wish it didn’t take so much man-power to read aloud to students.
  • You have a teacher computer.
  • You have Microsoft Word.
  • You use Microsoft Word documents (handouts, tests/quizzes, templates, tables, etc.).
  • You have some ability to use a computer lab or mobile laptop carts.
  • You remember something about there being technology TEKS and students being 21st century learners.
  • You have a sense of humor.

Insert Voice/Sound Object

The first tool I want to share is called “Insert Voice/Sound Object.”  Teachers (and students) who use the Insert Voice/Sound feature within MS Word have been extremely happy with how easy and powerful it is.  Its functions allow any document to be turned into a “talking” assignment or test and can free up the time staff spends reading aloud to students.  It records for up to one minute, but you can insert voice comments as many times as needed to read a test in its entirety.  I actually recommend that for tests, separate voice recordings are done for each question and each answer choice so that a student can easily replay a segment without having to listen to previous questions or answers.

Advantages to using technology to support the accommodations already being provided are that duplication of effort from staff are reduced; and maybe more importantly, it allows students to practice and gain independence.  After all, in college, students will not have an assistant to read to them.  Additionally, students can listen at their own pace, have text re-read as often as needed, and possibly be able to remain in class to take a test.  This is what full access to the curriculum is all about.

I should mention that inserting voice comments will require a headset with a microphone.  (A Logitech USB headset with microphone is easily available and around $20.)

Finally, the applications for inserting voice comments into Word documents are more robust than described here.  An example of another use might be to copy and paste text, articles, or passages from other sources (Internet, PDF, etc.) and imbed guiding questions in frequent chunks, or reminders to students for use of cognitive or summarization strategies.  Get creative!  While it may seem like more work up front, it will certainly pay off; you’ll have this document for as long as needed and for as many students as needed.  The voice file stays with the document and can be emailed, “saved as,” and transferred or stored without problem.

To learn how to Insert Audio/Voice into Word Documents view these videos:

Word 2007-

Word 2010 –


The second tool that I think is essential for differentiation and freeing up teacher time spent reading aloud to students is the free downloadable text-to-speech plug-in called WordTalk (  In contrast to a human voice reading text, this is a software/computerized speech that also has the ability to highlight each word that is being read. Additionally, it contains a talking dictionary, talking synonym finder and can convert text-to-mp3 so that students can listen to the document on their portable mp3 player (iPod, etc.).  The WordTalk plug-in creates an “Add-In” tab with a toolbar that offers customization of male/female computerized voices, speed, volume, and color of highlighting bar.  All of the advantages discussed earlier apply, with the added bonus that no teacher prep time is needed in order to create a talking test/handout that is done in Word (or copied and pasted into Word).  The drawbacks that might be encountered are that some students don’t like the computerized voice and that some words are mispronounced by the program.  Definitely download this to try on your home computer and then be sure to ask your IT department to check it out and consider putting it on the district network so that any student anywhere can access this support if needed.

Don’t Forget These

I was in an inclusion classroom recently where students were answering comprehension questions using evidence found in the text.  The teacher was leading the discussion as a whole group activity, projecting the questions from her computer (in a Word document) onto her white board.  The kids were engaged and thinking, pairing and sharing, but if we wanted to easily layer in extra supports or perhaps provide necessary accommodations, we could consider options such as:

  • Enlarging the font  (this is 14)
  • Using sans-serif fonts (simpler, clearer) [This is Calibri]
  • Increasing the spacing between the lines (this is 1.5)
  • Bolding or highlighting key words/phrases
  • Inserting graphics to support comprehension or memory of important info for a test (Clip Art, shapes)
  • Using graphic organizers such as SmartArt or the templates in Word:

  •  After modeling these features during class discussions, encourage or assign a student helper to take over.
  •  The assignment could then be printed or emailed to a student as a copy of classroom notes or to use as a study guide.

Take a moment to compare the text immediately above with the Times New Roman font and format this post began with and see which one best grabs your attention and is easiest to read.  I hope at least one of these features might be helpful.  Happy Teaching!

To learn how to use these features use: