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ReadSpeaker Introduction and How To Guides for WebReader & DocReader

webReader

ReadSpeaker webReader (“webReader” for short) speech enables the text content of web pages so that students can listen to the text.

ReadSpeaker webReader displays a Listen button on the web pages where this tool is made available for use. If you click on the Listen button, the button will expand to become a player and the text content on the web page will be read out loud, beginning at the top of the page. webReader reads the content out loud, highlighting both the sentence and the word currently being read in two different colors. Selecting the hamburger menu in the lower left corner of the Listen button will expand a list of additional options.
Listen button shows arrow pointing to hamburger icon in lower left corner.

Using the expanded buttons on the player, the user can: 

  1. Stop the audio version of the content, replay from the top after stopping
  2. Pause the reading, restart the reading from where it was paused
  3. Fast forward to content further on the page using the skip buttons
  4. Rewind to content earlier on the page using the skip buttons
  5. Adjust the volume
  6. Adjust reading speed
  7. Close the player (which stops the reading)

webReader menu showing hamburger menu option next to listen. Numbered icons show various actions to select.

If text is selected on the web page, only the selected text will be read out when the Listen button is clicked, rather than the entire content of the page.  The user can select text and click the Listen button from the pop-up menu that appears (or the main Listen button) to have the selected text read out.

webReader is cloud-hosted and works directly within the Brightspace learning management system and therefore does not require any software downloads or installations on the part of students.  It’s menu or play button will simply appear on the pages wherein it is designed to function and not appear on pages where it is not permitted.  Within Brightspace, webReader is designed to work on HTML pages included in lesson folders, on your lessons linked within CourseArc, as well as on pages that display assignment instructions or quizzes.

webReader is also device-independent, working with:

  • all commonly used online devices: pc, laptop, Chromebook, tablet, smartphone, and more
  • all major operating systems: Windows, Chrome, Android, iOS, macOS, and more
  • all major browsers:
    • for laptops and PCs: IE7+, Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
    • for mobile devices: Safari and Chrome on iOS devices, Chrome on Android devices, Chrome and Edge on Windows Phone

DocReader

ReadSpeaker docReader (“docReader” for short) speech enables the content of online documents to enable students to listen to the text of the documents displayed within Brightspace.

A docReader button is displayed above or next to online documents previewed or displayed in Brightspace lesson content.
Two buttons are displayed that open the Doc Reader. One is a paper icon with a microphone in the lower corner and another has headphones to the left of the words "Open Doc Reader".

When a student clicks on the docReader button, the document will be converted into docReader format and opened in docReader in a new browser window or tab, showing the first page of the document, a toolbar with which to access docReader’s features and a sidebar for navigation through the document. The user can navigate to other pages in the document in various ways.

On any page of the document, the student can now listen to the text of that page by pressing the Listen button in the toolbar. docReader then reads the content out loud, highlighting the sentence and the word currently being read in two different colors. The text on the page will be read section by section in the order defined in the document.

If text is selected, only the selected text will be read out loud when the Listen button is clicked, rather than the entire content of the page.

The docReader toolbar shows buttons for the following features:

  1. Show/hide the sidebar for document navigation
  2. Select document page
  3. Start, stop, pause or restart the reading
  4. Select layout mode – original document layout
  5. Select text mode – text oriented version of the document; the advantage of text mode is that the user can change the way the text is presented for easier reading
  6. More tools – expand the toolbar to show more features
  7. Help – opens an instruction web page for docReader
The Doc Reader tool bar is displayed showing the show/hide sidebar button, the page selector, listen/pause/restart buttons, layout mode, text mode, more tools and help icons. Each selection has a number associated per the description below.
docReader Toolbar

In the extra toolbar shown, when More tools is selected in the standard toolbar, there can be buttons for the following features:

docReader More tools tool bar including the selections as described below.

  1. Settings – opens a pop-up window where the user can adjust general settings and highlighting setting which apply in both layout and text mode:
    • the reading speed
    • the language for the user interface
    • whether docReader will start reading automatically when the user clicks in a text section
    • whether docReader will automatically flip to the next page and continue reading when the end of a page is reached
    • word highlighting: choose color or underlining or turn off
    • sentence highlighting: choose color or underlining or turn off
    • and text mode settings which apply only in text mode:
    • size, font, color and background color for the text in the document when in text mode
  2. Page Mask – a reading tool that brings out a horizontal bar on the screen by masking the rest of the screen above and below it. The user can move it down along with the reading for better focus.
  3. Reading Ruler – a reading tool that brings out a gray horizontal bar on the screen that can be moved along under the text as it is being read, to help the reader focus on the line being read.
  4. Highlighter – highlight important sentences in the document and collect them to produce a summary that can be saved as PDF

The docReader button and all the buttons on the docReader toolbar, and therefore docReader’s full functionality, are fully keyboard accessible. Tab/shift+tab can be used to navigate and the enter or space key to activate a certain feature. The following document formats are supported by docReader:

  • .pdf (tested up to Adobe® PDF version 1.7)
  • .doc (Microsoft® Word™ 2002-2003)
  • .docx (Microsoft® Word™ 2007 and later)
  • .odt (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Writer)
  • .rtf (Rich Text Format)
  • .epub (ePub2 document)
  • .pps/.ppt/.pptx/ (Microsoft® PowerPoint™)
  • .xls/.xlsx (Microsoft® Excel™)***
  • .odp (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Presentation)
  • .ods (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Spreadsheet).

***NOTE: Regarding spreadsheet formats (.ods, .xls, .xlsx): docReader can read these but has very limited support for table reading and will essentially read everything as text. docReader is not designed to work directly within Google Docs, though users can download a Google Doc to one of the supported file types listed above to allow for use of docReader.

docReader is device and browser-independent and does not require any downloads or software installations for use by students.

What is TextAid?

ReadSpeaker TextAid (“TextAid” for short) is a tool provided by Michigan Virtual to support students who may benefit from having text read out loud in locations of the course wherever the webReader or docReader tools are unavailable. TextAid must be installed on your computer’s web browser to use it.

How to install and use TextAid within your course

In most cases, text to speech support will be accessible in Michigan Virtual courses through either webReader or docReader and a prompt to use the feature will automatically appear at the top of the page or above the item that can be read. For instances where webReader or docReader prompts do not automatically appear on the page, you will need to use TextAid. TextAid is an “add-on” and must be installed on your computer’s browser to be used on any webpage or file downloaded from your course.

To install TextAid on your web browser, open a Michigan Virtual Course that you are currently enrolled in locate the Course Quick Access drop down menu. Then scroll down to locate and click on the TextAid link indicated below.

You will be taken to the ReadSpeaker TextAid Privacy Update – Consent Form. If you agree to the terms, select the green button at the bottom of the page stating I accept these terms. Click Cancel if you do not consent.
Two buttons are displayed, "I accept the terms" with a green background and a "cancel" button with a grey background.

ReadSpeaker TextAid will open the TextAid workspace as shown below. On the left side of the screen, select the Web Reading button shown below.
The Read Speaker Text Aid page appears with the left menu showing available options to select. An arrow points to the Web Reading option in that menu. The page content is showing a Welcome to Read Speaker Text Aid introduction.

Once selected, click on the Desktop link.

Next, choose Other Browser from the list of browser options.
The Web Reading page displays browser selections. An arrow points to "Other Browser" located at the bottom of the list.

Ensure that your browser is displaying its Bookmark Bar. If you need to display the Bookmark Bar and are unsure how that is done, select the name of the browser you use below for a link to instructions on how to do it.

Drag and drop the TextAid Web Reader link into your browser’s bookmarks bar.

TextAid Web Reader should now appear as a bookmark in your browser’s bookmark bar.

Using TextAid to read a course file downloaded from your online course.

When you click on this bookmark, a simplified version of the TextAid floating menu bar will appear in front of the page you’re viewing in your web browser.

Next, highlight any text on the webpage and click on the triangle Play button in the floating menu. After a short pause, you will hear the highlighted text read out loud.
The Text Aid floating menu bar is displayed on the Michigan Virtual Website. An arrow points to the play (now pause) button and to highlighted text on the page.

To open the full TextAid web application, highlight desired text to hear out loud, click on the file icon, Open in TextAid.
The Open in Text Aid button appears as a paper icon with a plus icon in the lower corner. An arrow is pointing to this in the floating Text Aid menu bar.

This will open the full TextAid web application. Select the green triangle Listen button to play.
The Read Speaker Text Aid application is shown with an arrow pointing to the Listen option within the left menu.

Click on the Library option in the left menu in order to open the dialogue box that permits you to upload a course file (e.g., .doc, .docx, .txt, .pdf), and you will then have the option to have TextAid read portions of the file to you.
The Read Speaker Text Aid application is shown with an arrow pointing to the Library option within the left menu. An additional arrow points to the Upload Document button within the Library (open file) dialog box.

Who to Contact for Help

If you need additional assistance, please contact our Customer Care Center.

Last updated on July 22, 2021

Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.