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AUDIO TEXT INFORMATION and UPDATES
Learning Ally's Membership and Catalogue
Learning Ally, which was formerly called Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, now offers its Read / Hear software for Macintosh users. This is GREAT news for Ringling College students with print disabilities. It means that any text listed in the Learning Ally database can be downloaded to your Macintosh computer. The easiest course for students with disabilities related to print (such as low vision or learning disability) is to join the organization as individuals. Members manage their own accounts and can look up and access texts without having to consult third parities. Learning Ally's recordings are made by real, human readers; there is no more natural sounding audio anywhere. Here is a link to information about downloading the program and video demonstration.
Even if you will not use texts from this organization next semester, your need for audio texts will be life-long and adding RFB & D to your resources is a really smart step to take. So visit Learning Ally. You may want to join as an individual to make this convenient--and more or less foolproof--way to acquire textbooks available now and for the future.
If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact Virginia DeMers.
Another source for listenable texts is Bookshare.org . This non-profit organization collects and distributes electronic books to people of all kinds with all kinds of print-related disabilities. Their collection is a repository of accessible text files submitted by universities, libraries and private users. They are instantly downloadable. Students should be registered with them. Unlike Learning Ally, they generally offer books in legible and accessible PDF or DAISY (Digital Access Information Systems) formats; thus, the voices are computer-generated. If you have not worked with these before--or have not heard them for awhile--you may be surprised how natural some sound.
Ringling College and Audio Text
As no book service collection is complete, Ringling College have several other resources and, with a bit of time, can scan and convert almost any text into audio form. We have one copy of Kurzweil 3000, a premier scanning and read aloud program. Primarily this program allows the disabilities services office (at the ARC) to scan and convert text books and articles in formats that allow listening. Students who want these programs on their own computers should purchase them as at present the college does not provide that software.
There are also commercial sources for audio text. Audio.com offers a range of currently popular titles, and some publishers regularly include E books s options for many text books. If such versions are available, students can purchase--or download for free--the documents.
An easy and always available option for text-to-speech is the Macintosh operating system. All note book computers given to students on entering Ringling College, have built-in text-to-speech capability. Any text-based file, whether document, PDF, web page or email, can be selected and listened to with adequate electronic voices. Many instructors upload PDFs of important readings for their classes to websites on or off campus. If these PDFs are not yet accessible, they can be processed through Kurzweil's OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and made readable on any Mac or other text to speech software.
Arranging for Audio Texts
RESIDENTIAL LIFE and DISABILITY