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ReadSpeaker Introduction and How To Guides for WebReader & DocReader


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.

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


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.

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

docReader menu icons as described above.

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.

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.