Learning disability

PDF Accessibility

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a common file format that allows the layout of a document to look the same across different platforms and applications. This article explains how to view and create PDFs with accessibility in mind.

Viewing PDFs

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E-books and E-reading Software

Electronic books (e-books) are an alternative to print, and may be useful to people who have difficulty reading because of vision or cognition disabilities, or who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages.  However, not all e-books are automatically accessible to blind users.  Libraries and schools should carefully consider their choices when making e-book decisions.

This article covers some of the most popular current choices.

E-book content may be available in different computer formats. Some books and magazines are available as standard text files or Microsoft Word documents. These are easily accessed by the use of screen reading software.

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Simple Language Makes Reading Easier

Clearly written information benefits any website visitor. However, it is particularly important to the many people who generally have trouble understanding written text. This includes:

•    people with cognitive disabilities
•    new readers (children and adults)
•    beginning English students

This article discusses a common method of measuring website readability, via several free tools. It also provides suggestions for improving your site's score.

Flesch Reading Ease

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Captions on Popular Online Video Sites

Online videos have grown in number and importance to the point where deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who need captions are seriously disadvantaged if those captions are not available. For example, some educational institutions offer online training that includes videos, but these are often not available. And of course most informal videos, such as family reunions or school plays, are hardly ever captioned.

Adding to this problem is the fact that there are many different video formats, and the most popular online video sites use different interfaces to control playback.

However, there are some improvements in online captioning, and more progress is on the way. This article covers how to find and view captioned videos online.

Captioning of video websites varies since there is no legal requirement to caption "consumer-generated" videos.  Federal government agencies do have to caption their online videos under Section 508, and a

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Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software converts what you say into text or mouse commands. It benefits people who have physical or cognitive difficulty using a keyboard to create text.

This article explains how speech recognition works and will help you get started.

Basic speech recognition is built into Windows and Macintosh operating systems. 

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Text-to-Speech Readers for People with Learning Disabilities

Text-to-speech readers are used by people who benefit from seeing and hearing text at the same time, including people with learning disabilities, beginning readers, and English as a Second Language students. They usually differ from screen readers for blind individuals in at least four significant ways:

  • Screen readers contain a large number of commands for emulating mouse functions; text-to-speech readers do not.
  • Text-to-speech readers generally have a visual interface, including pictures that accompany or replace text on buttons, which is likely to be useful to people with reading difficulties. Screen readers have a text-based interface that does not provide pictorial cues.
  • Text-to-speech readers usually require that users cut and paste text into a separate window or highlight text to have it read. Screen readers speak any text near the cursor.
  • Screen readers can be set to read programmatic text, such as menus and dialogue boxes; text-to-speech readers generally cannot.

Third-Party Text-to-Speech Readers

Simple text-to-speech readers work with standard applications, such as Microsoft Word and browsers. Many of these are available in free or inexpensive versions, with paid upgrade versions with better voices or additional features. Currently available text-to-speech readers include:

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Archived Webinar on AT and LD

Learning Ally has more than 10 recently-archived webinars on LD, especially dyslexia, and AT.

Titles include:

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e-Reader Waiver Granted for 1 Year

You may have heard that a coalition of e-reader manufacturers consisting of Amazon, Kobo and Sony, filed a petition requesting the FCC waive the rule requiring e-readers to have text to speech capabilities. 

The FCC has made a decision and the National Federation for the Blind has shared the following:

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Institutional Guidelines on Captioning

Creating institutional guidance for faculties and staffs on captioning can be a tricky issue. This NCDAE blog post shares what others in the field have to say. It's based on a discussion on the Educause ITACCESS list and shares perspectives of several institutions.

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