Acquiring and Using Digital Text to Support UDL

Video Transcript

Hello and welcome to the next webinar in our series about Universal Design for Learning. If you were not able to join us for the previous webinars in the series you may view the archived versions found on the OCALI home page under the button titled “OCALI Webinar Archive” at a later time. The title of our webinar today is: “Acquiring and Using Digital Text to Support Universal Design for Learning”. Today we will focus on hands-on tools and applications to implement one aspect of UDL, providing access to digital text. My name is Jeff McCormick and I am the assistive technology administrator with OCALI. Also joining me today are Heather Bridgman a rehab engineer and Jan Rogers an occupational therapist both regional assistive technology coaches with OCALI. OCALI is the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. We serve families, educators and professionals working with students with low incidence disabilities including autism, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments and traumatic brain injury. Our mission is to build state- and system-wide capacity to improve outcomes through leadership, training and professional development, technical assistance, collaboration and technology. Today we will be talking about tools to implement Universal Design for Learning. As you view this presentation, you will have the opportunity to learn about digital text – where to get it, how to use it and how it can be modified for the greatest number of learners. Before we begin the session, we would like to provide you with a few tips that will make your experience more rewarding and enjoyable. First, we would like to let you know that your microphones have been muted. We also find it best that you do not click outside of the Go-To-Meeting Webinar window during the presentation. If you have any questions about the content of today’s presentation, or if you have technical difficulties please use the chat interaction tool located at the right portion of your Go-To-Meetings screen. We will respond as questions arise. For all locations that have more than one participant, we ask that you take a moment right now to count the people watching this presentation. If you are not alone, please use the Chat tool to indicate how many additional people are in your room besides the person who registered. If you are watching alone, you do not need to chat us. So what is “Universal Design for Learning?” Let’s review a bit about what we have learned in the the previous webinars on UDL UDL is comprised of 3 guiding principles. Multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression and multiple means of engagement. Now let’s summarize each with a little more detail for those that were not at the previous webinars. Providing multiple means of representation suggests that we need to provide many different ways for our students to receive information. (Click) For some, providing a traditional text is sufficient. (Click) But for others who may have difficulty reading printed text, it will be important to provide alternative formats such as books on CD’s, (click) (click) or even mp3 players. (Click)Colorful graphics and representational drawings will help other students understand the information. So we can’t be limited by providing just one avenue to the information. The next guiding principle is that of multiple means of expression. The idea here is to allow students to show their knowledge in many different ways. We know that students acquire and process information differently so consider allowing them to show their knowledge in a variety of fashions. This may include art (click, click, click, click) or drama (click, click) or a variety of other things such as using oral presentations, PowerPoint presentations or creating board games for example.And the final guiding principle of UDL is to provide engagement. It is important to ask yourself – how do I involve my students in the learning process? Tapping into the student’s interest will help motivate them to learn. Engagement can be improved by allowing students to participate in more choices and options surrounding learning activities. You may find that you have students who have special interests in your class such as (click) music, (click) (click) the arts, (click) or photography to name a few. Planning activities around these special interests can increase engagement. Some students may enjoy working in groups while others may enjoy working independently. Offering choices of group versus individual work may be appealing to some students. These are just a couple of ways to enhance the engagement of our students. And here is another example of UDL. In this case, we made an “animoto” movie to summarize the three guiding principles of UDL. Animoto is a free multimedia tool that you or your students could use to create movies about a specific topic using still graphics. Now that we have reviewed the 3 guiding principles of UDL, let’s talk for a moment about the types of students in today’s classroom. I am sure we will all agree that the student population is comprised of a highly diverse group of learners. In a typical classroom, we have students who are visual learners, kinesthetic learners, and auditory learners. We also have students with a wide variety of background knowledge and others who are English Language Learners. In Ohio, there are also over 225 thousand student with disabilities. Let’s take a look at this video featuring Dr. David Rose from CAST to hear what he has to say about the curriculum and student needs. Most classrooms use printed textbooks as their primary means of representation. Textbooks have a set font size and still graphics. As a result of this the seemingly simple task of accessing a textbook can be a problem for some students. Those with physical disabilities may have trouble turning the page of a textbook. Others with visual impairments may not be able to read the one font size presented. Some students whose native language is not English, may have trouble with the translation of content vocabulary. And our final example is that of students with reading difficulties. These students may not be able to read the printed word and/or they may struggle with the meaning of the entire sentence or paragraph. So what options do we have for these students? Digital text can be a part of the solution we are seeking. With the advent of computers and word processing, text and pictures used in textbooks, books, and other learning materials are created and preserved in flexible digital formats. When text is available digitally it is much easier to alter into other formats. So the great benefit of digital text is that the same document or reading selection can be customized to the individual preferences or needs of the student. With digital text – which is also referred to as electronic text – we can make many modifications. We can adjust the font size for those with visual impairments, we can add speech or highlight key points for those with reading difficulties and we can also modify the appearance and color of the text and background for those with visual perceptual difficulties. Digital text adds flexibility to accommodate various learning styles. For some students, support in the way of enlarging the font size will be all they need to be able to access the curricular materials, but others may require text-to-speech translation where software would provide auditory feedback to the written word while simultaneously highlighting the spoken words as it reads. Digital text can be manipulated like this and in a variety of ways to meet all the needs of the students in the classroom. It allows a continuum of support

Furthermore, this digital technology is something our students are very familiar with. They are using this type of technology continually in their personal lives and in some cases in their educational pursuits as well. They use computers to create their school papers and research information on the web, they text message their friends, create and engage in blogs and post to social networking sites to name just a few examples of their exposure to digital text. Let’s take a look at this movie about students living in a digital world. There has also been an explosion of digital media trends in recent months making digital access more and more available to the general population. Here are some examples of those trends. Dedicated eBook readers have been one recent addition that seems to be having some impact on the digital text movement. These devices have helped to increase the release of digitally formatted books and materials to the general public. Some of the devices have a few accessibility features built in such as text enlargement and text-to-speech. Many of these devices also have mobile application versions for smart phones and computers. Others have pursued developing eBook software rather than creating dedicated hardware solutions like eBook readers. The free Blio eReader software is scheduled for release in the fall of 2010. This innovative approach to eReading is the project of Ray Kurzweil, technology innovator and creator of assistive technologies for persons with visual impairments and reading challenges. In addition to the typical eReader features Blio also includes the following features: color presentation of materials; adjustable text size; text-to-speech; adjustable reading speed; highlighting as it reads; text, audio, image or video insertion into the text; highlighting, annotation and underlining of text. This application will reportedly work on any Windows, Mac or Android operating system device. Another emerging trend in digital text is the development of open source digital textbooks. Currently California and a few other states are in the process of adopting open source digital textbooks. It appears as if this trend has emerged from the difficulties states have had economically in funding education programs. While this may or may not address funding issues as many hope, it has helped to open doors of accessibility for students with disabilities. Because these books are open source, creating alternate formats of the textbooks or derivative works is relatively easy for students with disabilities or for that matter any student who may have print based challenges or learning style preferences. The two links at the bottom of the slide will direct you to articles about open source books that may be of interest to many of you. As an example of open source textbooks, the CK 12 Foundation is a California-based non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market. They have developed an open-content, web-based collaborative model of textbooks termed “Flexbooks”. These books are FREE. Currently they have approximately 50 traditional but modularized textbooks in areas of mathematics, engineering, science and technology, but they are expecting to grow in number and topic. Their books can be downloaded as PDFs, read online-using the online viewer, or read in HTML format. Books can be easily shared via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, just to name a few examples. They also host an online site for collaboration, custom collation and self publication of the educational content of the Flexbooks. This allows for individualized customization of their books to meet classroom and student needs. Hopefully we all agree that digital text is a growing trend and can be a useful tool for our students. But how do we get our textbooks and other learning materials in a digital format? Let’s take a look at some places where we can find digital text. The first resource I would like to point out is “Project Gutenberg”. Project Gutenberg is a producer of free electronic books. The books you will find here are books whose copyright licenses are expired, in other words they are now in the “public domain”. So you are sure to find many classic works such as “Alice in Wonderland” or “A Christmas Carol”. These books are available for anyone to use. Another great resource for obtaining digital text are the websites associated with educational magazines such as Time for Kids and Weekly Reader. Many schools are using these materials and the websites associated with these magazines often offer the same stories on-line in a digital format. What a great way to make the curriculum accessible to the students who are struggling with the printed text! It is also worth mentioning that weekly reader has partnered with Ablenet to produce a weekly reader edition for students with disabilities. Many high interest magazines such as Sports Illustrated for Kids or National Geographic for Kids also have websites housing many of their current issues in a digital format. If your school is utilizing any of these subscriptions, it is worth checking out. Another wonderful resource for digital text comes directly from the textbook publishers. More and more publishers are providing access to their textbooks on-line. In some cases, this does require a subscription fee that schools may chose as a part of their textbook purchases. To access these online textbooks students are provided with a login for the publishers website which allows access to the appropriate grade level textbook. In addition to providing the electronic text, some publishers also offer rich supplemental materials such as 3D models, interactive quizzes, chapter summaries, reduced reading level formats and audio support of the chapters in an mp3 format. The 3D models and interactive quizzes can make learning fun and tap into the student’s individual learning preferences. The chapter summaries or reduced reading level formats may assist students who are struggling readers to gain the main points of the chapter. Finally mp3 formats of the chapters provide opportunities for students to take their learning on the “go” with the ability to download the textbook chapters onto smart phones and mp3 players. I should mention that in some cases with online textbooks, the text appears in a format that cannot be manipulated into alternate formats. But oftentimes, if that is the case, the publisher has built-in some accessibility supports such as the ability to enlarge text or a “speaker” icon that will provide text-to-speech feedback. Of course these supports vary by publisher and textbook, but it is another resource to consider when trying to obtain digital text in your classroom. Pearson Publishing has also developed an HTML format for some of their textbooks (math, social studies, science). These formats allow flexibility in adapting the text to meet the needs of a wide range of students. The text could be adapted for students who have disabilities as well as students who do not have identified disabilities but still struggle with reading traditional textbooks. Those might be “at risk” students, students who are English language learners and others who’s learning styles may benefit from alternate formats. We have mentioned a few digital resources for students with disabilities as we have talked about various places to find digital text for all students. We would now like to talk breifly about digital text resources that are exclusive to students with disabilities. The first resource we are going to discuss is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center. This center was established to provide a national clearing house for publishers to submit their textbook source files in a particular file format for the purpose of making those materials accessible for students with disabilities. The file formats they submit must comply with the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard or NIMAS file set. These source files can then be used to convert the text into a format that is useable by an individual student. Textbook publishers are required to submit electronic files for books published after August 18, 2006. Each state who participates in the NIMAC has assigned a state coordinator who is the point of contact for the state with the NIMAC. School Districts need to contact their state point of contact for access to NIMAC materials. CISAM is the Center for Instructional Support and Accessible Materials. It is Ohio’s coordinating agency for access to the NIMAC. CISAM’s role is to assist school personnel in locating large print and braille textbooks, audio, and digital texts (publisher’s files /NIMAS files) for eligible Ohio students. On the CISAM website, you will find the steps to obtain a NIMAS file, student eligibility requirements and the forms needed by school districts to access NIMAS files for students. Bookshare is another resource that is exclusively for students with disabilities. Bookshare has a comprehensive collection of digital texts including Newberry Award winners and New York Times best sellers as well as current periodicals and textbooks. Bookshare has over 42,000 titles in a variety of categories. There are over 5,000 books in the Children’s section alone. The database is searchable by title or author. You must have a disability to qualify for access to these books. Once you are a registered member of Bookshare, you can download two different text readers that provide auditory support to the digital text. The VictorReader Soft Bookshare Edition is a text reader designed for people who are blind or have low-vision and the READ:OutLoud Bookshare Edition is for people with learning disabilities. READ:Outloud Bookshare Edition also offers embedded reading comprehension strategies and instructional supports including electronic highlighting and note-taking features as well as auditory feedback. Bookshare is able to provide access to books for print disabled individuals by taking advantage of a special exemption in the U.S. copyright law that permits the reproduction of publications into specialized formats. If you have a disability that makes it difficult or impossible to read a printed book, you may qualify for Bookshare services. Student memberships are currently funded by an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Information about Bookshare can be found at A word processor is a common tool in many classrooms and more often, teachers are using it to create worksheets, study guides and other materials. If a worksheet is already in a word processing format, such as Microsoft Word, then it can be easily manipulated to enlarge the text, add auditory feedback or in some cases voice notes. However, if you are still searching for digital text, traditional scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) software can be utilized to convert any printed text to an electronic format. Although this process is labor intensive it is a way to convert curricular materials into a digital format. We do need to mention that educational staff need to be aware of and follow appropriate copyright and fair use laws when scanning text for students. Let’s take some time now, to show how easy it is to obtain digital text and then manipulate it by adjusting the size, adding color and then text-to-speech. For this example, I will obtain some text from the Project Gutenberg website – the address is Approximately ¾ of the way down the page, under the title “The Online Book Catalog”, you will see a link that says “Top 100 Books and Authors”. This takes you to a list of the top 100 downloads from the previous day. I’ll select something from this list. Clicking on the title takes you to a bibliographic record for the book. Scroll down the page to the section that says “Download this ebook for free”. I typically choose the HTML version or the plain text version from the main site. The larger files will often include graphics from the original source. Once the file has been downloaded and opened in your browser, you can select the text (Edit, Select All) copy it (Edit, Copy) and then open a new document in Microsoft Word and paste the text (Edit, Paste). It should be noted that the following modifications can be done with most word processors and are not necessarily unique to just MSWord. Once the text is in Microsoft Word, we can easily enlarge or change the color of the text or change the background to add color filters. First highlight the words to select the text. The text size and color can be changed by first selecting the text by using the “Edit” “Select All” menu items or by dragging over the text you wish to select. Then go to the “Format” Menu, select Font to open the Font setting dialog box. Here you can choose a new font size. [slight pause] Finally, we can listen to the text by highlighting a paragraph and then activating the built-in text-to-speech feature on the Macintosh operating system. This can be found under the “Apple” menu, in the “System Preferences”. Once the system preferences window is open select “Speech”. In the speech window click on the “Text-to-Speech” tab and click in the box beside “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” to put a check mark in that box. Next click on the “Set Key” button. You can now enter any key combination you choose to use when you activate the text-to-speech feature in a document. Remember you will want to select a key combination that is not already assigned for use in standard programs such as “command V” which is often used by programs to cut text. [Pause for text-to-speech] In my case, the key combination I selected was “Option R” so all I need to do is select some text, type “Option R” and the text I select is spoken back to me. I was able to stop the spoken text by selecting “Option R” again. Windows currently does not have built in text-to-speech, but there are a number of free text-to-speech players available for Windows that can be downloaded from the internet and installed on your Windows computer. This is a free program called Read Please. To use Read Please you must cut and paste text into the Read Please window so that it can be read. You will notice that there are several features available in the program such as speed adjustments, font size adjustments and a choice of speaking voices. Sometimes common software programs offer features that can help us to manipulate digital text. We are now going to take a look at the AutoSummarize and Readability Statistics features of Microsoft Word. These features found in a program that is commonly loaded on school computers, can assist educators in adjusting the reading level and quantity of text read by students. These are very helpful tools if you have students who need to have access to content-related text, but at a lower reading level. Go again to the “Tools” tab in Microsoft Word and select “AutoSummarize” The AutoSummarize window will open. In that window select the “Type of summary” you would like as well as the percentage of text you would like used from the original document. Select OK to close the window. Your document will be summarized with the key points using the percent of the document you selected. After completing your document or any section of the document you can check the readability level of your text by running spell check. At the end of the spelling check the pop-up window will display the readability statistics. If you do not have the reading level you desire from the AutoSummarize you can also work with the text by reducing the vocabulary and simplifying the sentence structure to further reduce the reading level. Again you can recheck your document after you have completed these things by running the spell check and displaying the readability statistics again. So now you’ve seen how easy it is to obtain digital text and modify its appearance by enlarging the size or adding color. We also saw in the demonstration how easy it is to add auditory feedback to digital text using the built-in text-to-speech feature of the Macintosh operating system or using free software programs that do the same thing on the PC side. We also learned how to determine the reading level of a document and summarize key points using Microsoft Word, a program commonly found in schools. At this time I’d like to show you some additional tools and websites that will assist you in your endeavors to provide access to all students. Many of you probably use Internet Explorer to browse the Internet, while others use Safari or Firefox. This special toolbar, called Accessibar, is an add-on to the Firefox web browser that runs in both the PC and MAC environments. It is free and it allows the user to modify whatever they are viewing on the Internet. So you can change the background color, the font sizes and colors, you can increase the spacing between words, you can hide the graphics on a webpage and you can add text to speech. This toolbar resides right underneath the Firefox web browser toolbar. You can download Accessibar from the website found on the bottom of the slide.

Here is an example of a website that offers reading material at different reading levels. This is the Windows to the Universe website. The topics are all related to science and space, but it’s a great way to differentiate instruction while providing access to the same information. Once you select a topic, there are tabs across the top of the page that allow you to select a “beginner”, “intermediate” or “advanced” reading level. There is also a button near the top of the page that allows you to switch between Spanish and English. The Tar Heel Reader website is a collection of over 6000 free, accessible books for beginning readers. These books are made with high-quality photographic images and simple text for each page. There are a number of adjustments that can be made to the books. As shown in the “Reading Controls” screen shot, text color and background color can be custom selected as well as a man, woman or child speech feedback voice. There are easy-to-access controls to turn the pages that are located in the same place on each page. This design makes it easy to access the books with switches, IntelliKeys keyboards and other access methods. You can also create your own books for inclusion in the Tar Heel Reader collection. The Cast UDL Book Builder is a website that provides educators with an opportunity to create, share, publish, and read digital books that engage and support diverse learners according to their individual needs, interests, and skills. Digital books that are created on the site can be developed with a variety of reading supports including audio of text, custom reading prompts, custom glossaries and many other features embedded in the books. This site provides comprehensive resources and links related to UDL to ensure that the books created are accessible for a wide-range of students. The UDL Editions website by CAST is an excellent example of a universally designed reading program. Not only are the texts in a digital format, but there are leveled supports for comprehension, enrichment activities, context-specific glossaries and a built-in text-to-speech toolbar by Texthelp. In addition to auditory feedback, the Texthelp toolbar offers many features and tools to manipulate the text such as highlighting tools, dictionary and encyclopedia links and English/Spanish translations. These two websites offer free study guides for classic texts. So on the Spark Notes page, you start by clicking the subject matter and then you will see a listing of the included titles. There is usually a one-page summary of the entire book and then you can also click on chapter summaries. The No Fear Shakespeare website can be accessed from the Spark Notes page and in addition to a study guide with chapter summaries, it also offers the original Shakespearean text side-by-side with the modern day interpretation. This would be helpful for any student studying Shakespeare! You may have noticed by now that that many of the suggestions for obtaining digital text were found on the web. That is because much of the text we see on websites is digital text. If you are able to highlight the text on a webpage line-by-line then it is likely that you have digital text that can be manipulated into other formats or used with a text reader for text-to-speech. Think of the possibilities when accessing the vast wealth of digital text on the web to supplement your students learning and access to curriculum content topics. As you can see there are many resources for digital text. They are too numerous to showcase individually in this webinar, but we have created a companion document featuring those websites shown in the webinar and additional websites that are rich in curriculum content and are in formats that are adaptable as well. You can find those resources in a document titled “Digital Text Resources” on the OCALI website which is . Once at the home page, click on the button to the right that says “Webinar Archive”. Thanks for joining us for the webinar titled Acquiring and Using Digital Text to Support Universal Design for Learning. We hope you enjoyed the presentation and discovered some new teaching ideas and resources that you can implement right away in your school to support the students you serve. An archived version of this webinar and other previously presented webinars can be found at the OCALI homepage under the OCALI Webinar Archive button. Thanks again for learning with OCALI. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information, contact your regional OCALI Coach at

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This presentation focuses on using digital text to support Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  A very brief overview of UDL will be provided and then we will address the many ways digital text can be modified to support the diverse needs of the students in our classrooms.  Several resources for obtaining both copy written and public domain digital text will be provided.  We will discuss emerging trends in the use of digital text such as eBook readers and open source textbooks.  The presentation will conclude with a review of tools and websites that incorporate many aspects of UDL.

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