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Deborah Armstrong

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About Deborah Armstrong

  1. Though I personally prefer Read2Go, I find students like VoiceDream much better. VoiceDream also lets you buy a variety of voices and grab your books from different cloud storage sources. For Braille, Read2Go does have a big edge, and I think it's a bit less confusing for BVI users.
  2. I have determined that Chrome just isn't going to use my SAPI voices, but as you said, I can indeed download the high-quality Google TTS without needing to log in. In fact, curiously if I do log in, which automatically enables ChromeVox, it causes the web reader to stop its self-voicing. The secret therefore is to not log in to Chrome. so I keep one machine logged in to chrome and another that never logs in. Solved the problem! Another thing that can be done in a computer lab if one does need to log in to Chrome for some reason is to create a demo google account. I do this on our department iPAD so I can save searches and the like, but I use it strictlhy to demo features so there's no real personal information saved on that account.
  3. Have you tried skipping past the legal disclaimers? Does it continue to read if immediately when it starts you press the 6 key to skip to the book content? If you phone Humanware and demonstrate this over the phone to their support they might have thoughts about the problem as well. It's certainly unusual, as I have read thousands of books with several VR Stream players, including old and new models that belong to both me and my employer. One problem that you might be having is that if the reader comes across an image or a tag for an image it can stall for a long time and fall silent. It hasn't turned off, it just has trouble processing the images or their tags. And it doesn't actually freeze, it just seems to get stuck in the middle of processing. There is a link to an image in the text-only Daisy files and that seems to flummox the Stream somewhat. One thing you can try now is to download the book as epub instead and see if the device reads that format better. Don't download as BRF for sure. Also try something that's not publisher quality and be sure you update your stream's firmware.
  4. I have sideloaded GoRead and do not experience these problems with the voice. I read very, very fast, but I do use VoiceView the screen reader. It is likely that once you speed up the voice using the screen reader, it stays fast for GoRead. If you don't need the screen reader, turn it off after speeding up the voice.
  5. I found it a bit confusing, but not impossible to use with a screen reader, and it's worth the learning curve! I particularly like now that I can find fiction with the words "cookbook" or "comprehensive" in the title or nonfiction with the word "suspense". It is sometimes quite challenging to find a book on a topic when that topic is a common word. This might already be on your Youtube channel, but if it's not or it is incomplete, a tutorial on using the search filters will go a long way towards helping members become more independent. To make it accessible for screen reader users, be sure to say "and now I'm clicking on the button labeled ..." or "a drop-down list appears when I click here ..." and that helps all people who are auditory learners as well, who for example, might not notice that drop-down list!
  6. I have worked with so many LD students and each has a different voice they prefer. This is because all reading differences are different. I try to acquire as many different TTS voices as possible each time our college has extra money so if a student needs, I can always make them MP3 files of sections they need to read. One thing I've learned is that the more you practice using electronic voices, the better you get, until eventually it hardly matters what voice you are using. Remember that some people also have auditory processing disorders, and that's the problem; not the voice they are currently using to read a book. For them, seeing the book while the voice reads is crucial. Your choices are more limited with the web reader in Windows, but my best advice is to try and purchase as many of the TTS voices that you can. On the iPAD and Android, VoiceDream users can work with a variety of low-cost voices. On Windows many Daisy book readers can use SAPI voices. This link: will let you download a demo of 39 voices I prepared for my students so they can experiment with listening to all the different ones. The readme included lists sources of voices both for free and purchase and also Windows programs one can use to read with these voices.
  7. As a student, using my personal account, I've had great success getting book requests taken care of. I've requested about ten books that weren't in the library, and six months later, they were! And they were high quality with great Daisy markup making it quick to read the sections I needed and skip the sections I didn't. As a disability service provider, using a different account of course, I've not had good luck requesting books for students. Part of the problem is that our professors often don't decide what book they want until a week before class. I acquire books for my students through bookshare, learning ally, several other services that provide textbooks from publishers to service providers like me, the public libraries and through networking with other colleges. When considering a college, a print-impaired student should find out how capable an alternate media specialist at their college is at tracking down books from disparate sources. I also scan many books for my students. In general about 40% of the books my students need can be downloaded or read online from bookshare. Often the biggest problem is that the publisher has just come oujt with a new edition which of course the professor decides to use, and bookshare only has older editions. It's particularly frustrating when the only thing that's changed with the new edition is that the exercises have been updated, or the text of the material switched around in such a way that a good reader could easily work with the older edition whereas a challenged reader cannot.
  8. I was the original poster of this topic, logging in then under my personal account, which on these forums is still associated with my maiden name. It is still disappointing that reviews aren't more popular, but I definitely second the suggestion of making it possible to see other books that are similar to a title I downloaded; the way libraries and Amazon already make suggestions. I would say though not to show other books that were searched for, but instead other books that were actually downloaded or read online that are similar.
  9. I agree with the ease of use of Alexa and often demo her to my students, reminding them that non-disabled students need to buy or rent books and so if they have to get the book on Amazon for the easy reading experience their playing field is more than level. I think one thing that would help impatient, challenged readers to get the "Alexa experience" now with bookshare is more videos on using the web reader. I know there's a few that exist but there is more chatting from the demonstrator and not enough demonstration of the user actually reading with the high-quality Chrome voice. Remember that showing a reluctant reader how to use the web reader can go a long way towards giving them the "Alexa Experience" with today's bookshare!
  10. I continue to love using goread, voicedream and capti on my Kindle. I also use the Kindle often to demo to students, especially those with learning differences or low vision who need to read with both their eyes and ears. Improvements to the Fire operating system continue to appear, and another apk repository, also keeps updated versions of the apps, like goread available for side-loading. Another big advantage the Kindle has over some other Android tablets is support for SD cards, and the fact that a book that a student wants to buy or rent that's not on bookshare can also be easily read on this platform. Amazon has added greater accessibility to the newest Kindle paperwhite devices, and though they don't run apps, it's important information to know. I'd really like to see more high school and post-secondary schools encourage Kindle usage, since the device is far cheaper than an iPAD, books are cheaper to rent on Amazon than to buy and sideloading goread is really not that difficult.
  11. I have been a bookshare member myself since 2002 and love it. However, I am blind and a voracious reader. I work at De Anza college, and the experience for many of my students is quite different. Reading is something they do only when necessary, and bookshare doesn't help with its impersonal and unfriendly communication methods. Here are two examples. One of my students, and adult, wrote me the following: >Hi Deborah, >I'm running into some trouble accessing one of the texts I need for class on Bookshare. The book is called Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, and although >the book is in the Bookshare library, the system tells me I cannot access it until it is added for me to my reading list (literally: "You do not have access >to this title; ask your teacher to add the book to a reading list.") I've attached a screenshot. >I don't know how to overcome this issue, and would appreciate your help, as this is affecting my ability to complete assignments, seeing as reading without >audio assistance is very difficult for me. The student clearly doesn't know that she can easily become an individual member. Instead of an unfriendly message about how her "teacher" has to add books to a reading list for her, how about a welcoming message inviting her to become an individual member and explaining that if she needs the book now she should ask the college service provider who set up her account to give her access to the book. For example: "Oops, this book isn't on your reading list. You can access it by contacting Deborah at De Anza college who set up your bookshare account, or simply follow these simple steps to become an individual member." The teacher concept is fine for K12, but in college, service providers working with disability services set up these accounts; professors have nothing to do with it and the message only confuses our students. To further confuse things, many of my students also have Learning Ally accounts, where they simply add books to their bookshelf as needed. It's hard for them to understand that bookshare works differently. For me, it would be nice if I could simply invite each student to become an individual member as soon as I set up their account. I've tried that, but they find the resulting correspondence they receive from bookshare equally confusing and simply ignore it. >As you may know, John Doe uses a resource called Bookshare > ( >to get accessible digital books and reading tools for school. This service is free through an award from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. >Department of Education, and students have access to titles that their teachers assign to them. Student Members can also use Bookshare independently for >free, getting access to hundreds of thousands of titles and free reading tools to assist with homework or independent pleasure reading. We encourage you >to complete the following steps to begin using Bookshare anywhere, anytime: >1. Complete the Individual Membership application online > and enter your personalized Activation ID in the appropriate field: JuliaDye38693 >2. Read and agree to the Bookshare Member Agreement online. >3. If the form cannot be completed online, >contact Bookshare > to learn how to submit a paper form. To many print-impaired folks, the above message reads like spam. It's turgid bureaucratic process-speak. Instead how about a note saying: "Deborah Armstrong from De Anza college has just set up an account for you for reading through bookshare. These are ebooks you can read in audio, Braille, large print or any other way you need. You can read them online or download to read them anywhere. Right now you are an organizational member. This means if you want a book, you will need to ask Deborah to assign it to you. But you can become an individual member for free and search for and download books yourself. Follow these simple steps to set up your individual membership." The student could automatically receive this friendly note from bookshare as soon as I create an account for them. And, doesn't that sound much more clear and inviting than the above obtuse communication? Students could also automatically receive a link to a video introducing them to bookshare and showing them how to sign up. Most of my students prefer Youtube to reading! Thanks for your time.
  12. I wanted to demo the Bookshare web reader on Chrome to a staff member. We only have Windows 7 here; I don’t plan to upgrade until our college I.T. department officially supports it. I am blind and an experienced bookshare member. But my job mostly involves assisting LD students and I want to be sure I master the interface to the web reader on Chrome which gives that population a better experience. Ideally, I want to be able to demo it flawlessly. The department laptop and my office PCS are all running K1000, NVDA, TextAloud and Balabolka with a variety of great SAPI voices that I’d purchased. I couldn’t get the Bookshare web reader on Chrome to use any of those voices; it only wanted to use Microsoft Anna. My suspicion is that the problem is caused by my running the 64-bit version of Windows 7, and even though I can adjust voices using the 32-bit control panel aplet to change the default voice, that doesn’t seem to affect Chrome. I know that one can install high-quality voices from the Chrome web store, but I really don’t want to log in to Chrome using my personal account; ideally I don’t want to log in to Chrome using any account so I can replicate the experience one might have in a computer lab. The web reader works fine visually and it works fine with JAWS, NVDA and WindowEyes in Chrome, Firefox and IE. My current problem seems to be getting Cghrome to see all my SAPI voices. I might have future problems, such as how to effectively demo a book with images, when I myself can't see them, but first I need to get more voices working. Luckily I'm technical and have been an individual member since 2002!