Helping Maya Access Visual Information–Reading & Academic Access Tools

Helping Maya Access Visual Information--Reading & Academic Access Tools


It’s taken me a long while to get Maya set up at school so that she can access reading materials on her laptop computer/iPad from various electronic and print sources. As I learn about new tools I share them with all of you to use for yourselves, your family or to pass along to others. Please know that I am not a tech person so I may not get all of the terminology right, but I have done my best to get you started:

Sending print documents to electronic devices for easier reading/completion:

1. Microsoft Office Lens is a scanning app that is now available on Androids and Iphones. You can use this app to take a photo of a print document, article or worksheet–even a label. Once you snap the photo you can use a Microsoft accessibility tool called “Immersive Reader” to read it aloud to you–however you can’t save it there so, it will ask you what program you wish to send it to. Here is the key piece, you can drop, save and organize documents into Microsoft One Note (and it may already be available in some versions of Word) and use the immersive reader tool there–if your version has been programmed with it. Please note you must use the same login on the phone or other devices as you do on the computer where the child/person is working to ensure the document is sent to where you need it to go. **microsoft is constantly rolling out updates and adding immersive reader to more platforms. Check out this article from Microsoft about immersive reader updates:…/immersive-reader-comes-to-outl…/

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2. Microsoft’s One Note is a digital filing system that operates like a comprehensive planner and document organizer. Once you drop documents into One Note you can then pull up the document and click on “View” and then “Immersive Reader” to have it read the document aloud. If you don’t wish to use this function, you can simply pull up the document you scanned and enlarge it, mark it up and highlight it. This is handy for finding the main idea/s and re-reading materials for missed information. Maya had an assignment last night to provide a summary of an article and having access to these tools made it possible for her to access and manipulate the material herself. In the photo below we imported an article using Microsoft Lens and then selected the “Immersive Reader” function under “View” so that Maya could listen to the article first. It doesn’t always read the text perfectly, but it’s quite good.

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3. The Snap Type Pro app can be used to scan worksheets that an be enlarged for easier viewing and you can mark up the document and type in answers (no read aloud function). We have personally found it particularly handy for math worksheets. Once you are finished you can send the document by email to your teacher or wherever it needs to go. Here is a demo I found for completing a spelling worksheet:


In previous posts I have gone over the different ways we access and manipulate digital materials, but here is a brief recap:

For books Maya uses the digital library called Bookshare.

We have paired her Bookshare access with an app we love called Voice Dream Reader. Voice Dream allows us to import books and adjust the type style, size, background color, highlight, take notes and more. It also allows Maya to isolate lines of text and block out the surrounding text for easier reading as well as using her finger to follow text without the screen moving. When she gets tired she can turn on the text to speech function and have the print read aloud to her.

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You can also import documents into Voice Dream (no jpg files) but so far the Microsoft Lens program mentioned above is much more streamlined, flexible and reliable for articles that aren’t in a very structured format (like Word).

Finally, whether you have an Ipad, iPhone, PC, or Apple computer, check out the Microsoft and Apple accessibility tools/functions. There is a handy shortcut for having text read aloud on the iPad where you swipe two fingers down from the top. I also have found the browsers like Safari and Microsoft Edge to offer helpful reading tools:…/windows-10-microsoft-edge-e….

These kinds of features are constantly being updated and there are so many! You can turn on text to speech functions and block out surrounding photos and ads on news articles and web pages. Here is an example of the reader view tool that becomes available in the address bar for many online articles in Safari (before and after photo below):


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There you have it! This is our current arsenal of resources for supporting Maya’s vision and ensuring she can access and complete her academic work. I hope this helps some of you too! It’s taken a lot of hours of research, trial and error and emails to put these pieces together so please share this information to help others avoid some of the work I did.

P.S– You may wish to take a look at this article which offers an example of how a reading accommodation was implemented for a 4th grader and what kind of impact that had on her learning and self-esteem. It’s called Developing a Growth Mindset in Struggling Readers and it’s from the website It may be helpful to share with educators as an example that it’s possible to provide a reading accommodation.