Read&Write Screenshot of a webpage highlighted
Accessibility, Best Practices, instructional technology

Improve your, and your students’, reading and writing confidence

Did you know that the College has purchased a site license for Read&Write from TextHelp (thanks Disability Services). Read&Write is a toolbar for your computer or web browser that allows the users to increase their literacy.  This toolbar works in any application on your computer, allowing you to:

  • have the computer read digital documents to you
  • highlight any website or document to assist with summarizing and categorizing
  • suggest words as you type (prediction) to develop writing skills
  • convert inaccessible text, such as a screenshot, into accessible text
  • proofread your documents
  • and more…

Read&Write toolbar screenshot

I use Read&Write to read difficult or boring documents out loud while I read it.  It helps me stay focused especially if I’m not keen to read it to begin with.  It also has a Screen Masking tool which is another tool to help prevent loss of focus.

These are just a few of the things Read&Write can do without much, if any, instruction.  However, if you want to do more then you can use it to

  • give you word definitions.  There is even a picture dictionary which can be good for non-native speakers.
  • create audio files from typed text.
  • check verbs for agreement.
  • create a collection from your highlights.
  • create a vocabulary list.
  • add text facts to a web resource (such as notes, title, author, etc.).
  • export the notes you create to a Word document.
  • translate words
  • similar word checker

These tools can definitely help users with disabilities but it’s important to know that they can help EVERYONE become more literate.  We all have times where focus or vocabulary or writing is an issue and this is a tool that can help.

If you want to know more visit Read&Write Quick Start and Read&Write Getting Started.


  1. Go to
  2. Click Try Now choose your platform and follow the normal installation instructions for your platform
  3. Once it’s installed, open it up and accept the User Terms, click OK.
  4. IMPORTANT: When asked to sign in you MUST choose GOOGLE and use your CofC email and password.

If you have problems getting it installed or logged in, contact the CofC Service Desk at 843-953-DESK.

Google Chrome Icon
Accessibility, Google

UDL Chrome Extensions that may help Struggling Students or those with Special Needs

One of the sessions at this year’s ISTE Conference was on “Google Tools for Struggling Students.”  From the resources posted I found a list of wonderful Google Chrome browser extensions, by Eric Curts, that could be really useful for ANYONE, not just students with special needs or those that are struggling.  The resource identifies 31 extensions which you should look through but I’m going to highlight a few I think are the best to help you narrow the field a bit.  READ ERIC CURTS’ FULL ARTICLE WITH ALL OF THE EXTENSIONS.

Text to Speech

read&write logo

Text-to-speech read an entire webpage or a highlighted selection.  This is helpful for those with

dyslexia, non-native speakers, and those with focus issues.  I use it to help me read text that is very technical or very boring.  I like to hear the computer read along with me to keep me on task.

Read&Write for Google Chrome

Eric Curts calls this extension the “Swiss Army Knife” because it does so much.  One of the things it can do is read any webpage, either the entire page or a highlighted selection.  It can also define words which we’ll look at more in the Readability section below.  This extension also allows for highlighting web text and many other features.

Speech to Text


Speech-to-text allows the user to speak into the computer microphone and the computer will translate that speech to text.  These extensions allow you to use Speech-to-text on any webpage. Note: Google Docs has this feature built-in and no extension is needed when there.

VoiceIn Voice Typing

Allows the user to dictate text into any text box or entry point of a webpage or webform.


Readability refers to how easy it is to read the webpage.  This includes the font, issues with color and contrast, and the reading level at which the page was written.

Open Dyslexic fontOpenDyslexic

Overrides all fonts with the OpenDyslexic font making it easier for users with dyslexia to read the text.

Color Enhancer

For users who are partially color-blind.

Read&Write for Google Chrome

Eric Curtis calls this extension the “Swiss Army Knife” because it does so much.  One of the things it can do is read any webpage, either the entire page or a highlighted selection.  It can also define words which we’ll look at more in the Readability section below.

Reading Comprehension

TLDR logoTLDR: Summarize Anything

Generates a summary of any webpage you are on in either short, medium, or long length.



BeeLine Reader

Removes ads, comments, and other distracting items from the screen.  Also uses a color gradient to guide the eye.



Crafty Cursor logoCraftyCursor

Highlights the cursor to make it easier to see.  Also great for using when screenrecording.


Caret Browsing

Allows the user to navigate through and highlight text on a webpage using only the keyboard.


Chrome Accessibility Features


User can adjust the zoom level of the browser by pressing:

  • Ctrl and + to zoom in

  • Ctrl and – to zoom out

  • Ctrl and 0 (zero) to return to the original zoom level

Font face and size

Users can set the default font face and default font size for all websites.

  1. Click the settings button in the top right corner of Chrome.
  2. Choose Settings from the drop down menu.

  3. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings.

  4. Now scroll down to the Web content section and click the Customize fonts button.

  5. A window will now open where you can adjust your default font settings.

Keyboard shortcuts

Many common tasks in Chrome can be accomplished with keyboard. Some common keyboard shortcuts are listed below.

  • Shift+Alt+T = Main Toolbar (contains Back, Forward, Reload, etc)

  • Shift+Alt+B = Bookmarks Toolbar

  • Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+8 = switches to the tab at the specified position number on the tab strip.

  • Ctrl+9 = switches to the last tab.

  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab or Ctrl+PgUp = switches to the previous tab.

  • Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PgDown = switches to the next tab.

  • Ctrl+W or Ctrl+F4 = closes the current tab.

A full list of Chrome keyboard shortcuts can be found at

Voicethread Universal Design

VoiceThread is now more accessible than ever

VoiceThread is an easy way to create everything from student presentations to course lectures….

Universal View

This view is readable by computerized screen readers used by those with sight issues. This view is also navigable using only the keyboard (no mouse needed) so it’s more accessible to those with physical issues. The Universal View is also perfect for faculty who want to capture a snapshot of all the text comments for a slide in VoiceThread.

comparison of standard view and universal view


VoiceThread now also allows for captions of not only the videos you upload but your audio and video comments as well.  As with all media players that allow captioning VoiceThread can DISPLAY a closed captions file but it cannot CREATE a closed captioned file.  That has to be done using a third party app such as Movie Captioner (site license owned by CofC) or YouTube.

Captioning Comments:

You can caption both audio and video (webcam) comments.

Step 1:  Create the caption file and save it to your computer as one of the following: .DFXP, .SRT, .SAMI, .SCC, .SBV

Step 2:  Start playing the comment.

Step 3:  Click on the CC button at the bottom of the comment, next to the trash icon.

Step 4:  Select the caption file you created earlier.

Step 5:  Click OK.

Captioning Video:

You can also caption the video that you upload or record into the main VoiceThread content window.

Step 1:  Create the caption file and save it to your computer as one of the following: .DFXP, .SRT, .SAMI, .SCC, .SBV

Step 2:  Navigate to the slide that contains the video.

Step 3:  Hover your mouse over the video icon on the left side of the page.

Step 4:  Click on the CC button in the top-right corner of the VoiceThread window.

Step 5:  Click “Add captions”.

Step 6:  Select your caption file.

Step 7:  Click “OK”.


VoiceThread is continuing in their efforts toward universal accessibility however the roadblock remains the creation of the caption file.  Check back in the next few weeks as we hope to have a tutorial on the easiest way to create captions for VoiceThread comments and content.