At the recent CEC conference, I saw many great solutions to help students with a diverse array of challenges. Most of the technology and tools had a few things in common. They were focused on a specific task and they were expensive. One of the sessions stood out from the rest. They introduced an amazingly powerful tool to help students with reading challenges but kept adding new feature after new feature that makes this tool the most powerful tool for helping students with dyslexia, and dyscalculia that I have ever seen. As the presentation continued I was bracing myself for the sticker shock, and I was shocked. It’s Free!

Microsoft’s Immersive Reader is an amazingly powerful tool that is embedded in many of Microsoft’s products including many of its free offerings. They are continuing to add this functionality to more products at a rapid pace. At the time of this writing it is available in the following:

  • Edge Browser (free)

  • One Note (free)

  • Word online (free)

  • Word

  • Outlook (free)

  • Teams (free versions available)

  • Microsoft Lens (Free Android and iOS app)

So what is the immersive reader?

First and foremost it’s just that. It will read text from documents, webpages, email, messages, and more to you in one of the best computer-generated voices I’ve heard. With the Lens app you can take a picture of the text on a page and it will do character recognition on the text then read the page to you. This is great for chapter books, textbooks, the smartboard, or worksheets.

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In addition to just reading it has a Picture dictionary. Picture Dictionary enables students to view a picture representation of a word they click on. Students can combine with reading Aloud for multi-sensory processing, a technique to aid reading and comprehension. It will also allow you to change fonts to one that’s more readable, change letter spacing, use a focus tool to highlight a line at a time, and more. All of these features make the text easier for students with reading disabilities to read the text. Another great feature that could be used for all students is breaking the words into syllables or highlighting parts of speech by color.

Importing, or just writing Mathematical equations into one-note will allow them to be read aloud, and can even provide step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem. There are many more great features that are easily found when you start using this amazing product.

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