AIM-Virginia Renews Statewide License of Read:OutLoud6 eBook Software to Provide Reading Accommodations for Students with IEPs and Access to Electronic Textbooks

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The Virginia Department of Education, through the George Mason University Accessible Instructional Materials Center (AIM-VA), has renewed its statewide license of Read:OutLoud 6, an eBook software program to read digital books aloud. This assistive technology tool provides reading accommodations to an estimated 170,000 students in 1,900 VA public schools.

screen shot of Read:OutLoud supports

eBook reader includes reading comprehension supports

It is critical that we give VA schools the tools and support they need to provide access to digital formats for students with physical and reading disabilities

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), through the George Mason University Accessible Instructional Materials Center (AIM-VA), has renewed its statewide license of Read:OutLoud 6, an eBook software program to read digital books aloud, developed by Don Johnston Inc. This assistive technology tool provides reading accommodations to an estimated 170,000 students in 1,900 VA public schools. VA Superintendents and Digital Rights Managers (DRMs) can sign up on the AIM-VA website to download Read:OutLoud 6 at no cost.

Read:OutLoud 6 enables easy access to a wide range of eBook formats including DAISY, PDF, NIMAS, RTF, TXT, XML and HTML and Bookshare files and opens them without conversion. The software includes a robust set of reading comprehension tools and an accessible web browser to access the Internet. Virginia students with IEPs and those served under 504 plans can use the text reader at school and at home to study independently while receiving timely access to electronic textbooks and accessible instruction materials as required by IDEA 2004 law.

"It is critical that we give VA schools the tools and support they need to provide access to digital formats for students with physical and reading disabilities,” said Michael Behrmann, Ed.D., Director of AIM-VA. "Through this statewide license, VA schools can use a quality text reader at considerable cost savings and receive in-depth professional services that Don Johnston and our training team provide.”

In 2009, VA educators attended workshops to learn to use Read:OutLoud to open digital files and to accommodate students who have difficulties reading and manipulating standard print. Joyce Sharp, AIM-VA Coordinator of Training, said “VA educators were enthusiastic and quick to take advantage of this software. They made great strides to explore reading supports like text-to-speech and text formatting. Based on their feedback, we extended the license so that more students would receive reading accommodations through this technology.”

Mike Smith, Information Technology Project Leader for Henrico Public Schools, VA is the Digital Rights Manager for 67 schools and provides feedback to the AIM-VA committee. His team developed a 5-step process to ensure that every teacher experiences success with the AIM-VA statewide reading initiative.

“Our website makes it easy for educators to identify students who qualify to receive access to the reading software and to request digital books on their behalf,” said Mr. Smith. Read:OutLoud is a solid reading tool that enables students to see and hear text read aloud. If an 8th grader can only read on a 3rd grade level, this software can enhance his confidence and improve his reading potential. This year, we want to provide Read:OutLoud 6 to an estimated 6800 eligible students. We also plan to upgrade our online forms to a FileMaker Pro database to streamline timely access to accessible instruction materials and continue to protect important copyright laws.”

Fairfax VA Public Schools use Read:OutLoud 6 throughout the district to provide accessible instruction materials for students in general and special education. This video filmed at ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association), describes a fifth grade reading program on global awareness using the text reader and for response to intervention (RTI).

Read:OutLoud 6 is an approved reading accommodation in leading U.S. school districts, including every school in Indiana through the Indiana Center for Accessible Materials. The software makes it easy for students to navigate the latest eBooks and comprehend text in a multi-modal digital learning environment. A built-in eHighlighter improves study skills. The talking dictionary enhances vocabulary. A bibliographer helps students accurately cite research. Read:OutLoud is recognized for its supportive reading comprehension templates designed to leverage strategies recommended by the National Reading Panel and Reading Next Report.

Resource Links:

AIM-VA: http://kihd.gmu.edu/aim

Learn about Read:OutLoud 6:
http://www.donjohnston.com/readoutloud

Henrico VA Public Schools 5-Step Implementation Process:
http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/exed/ExEdHCPS/AssistiveTechnology/Accessible.html

Fairfax, VA Public Schools Video - ATIA 2010:
http://www.donjohnston.com/products/access_curriculum/index.html

View a 5-minute demo of Read:OutLoud:
http://www.donjohnston.com/media/flash/product_demo/readoutloud6/index.html

Don Johnston Incorporated

Don Johnston empowers educators with specialized accessible technologies and supported reading and writing tools for students with cognitive, physical, and learning differences. Since 1980, the company has partnered with literacy experts, assistive technology specialists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, teachers, researchers, and scientists to develop over a dozen accessible technology products. The company also publishes Start-to-Finish®, a collection of paperback, audio and computer books for students reading below grade level. To learn more about Read:OutLoud 6, visit http://www.donjohnston.com/readoutloud

George Mason University, Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities

The Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities is an interdisciplinary campus based organization that focuses on improving the lives and productivity of persons with disabilities. As one of the oldest assistive technology training programs in the country, KIHd combines the resources of George Mason University with local, state, regional, national, public and private sector agencies and organizations to develop products, services and programs for person with disabilities. Visit http://kihd.gmu.edu/ for more information.

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