Jun 24th , 2010
Believe it or not, one of the most common questions I am asked is in regards to Ginger’s Text To Speech feature. For those that are new to interacting with individuals who have learning difficulties, they are often not aware how beneficial Text To Speech can be for this group. To clarify, Text To Speech, often written as TTS, is a technology that converts written words into speech. Using computer speakers, TTS allows the writer to hear the text they have written. At times, there is debate as to which Text To Speech technology is the best. Ginger Software’s TTS is powered by Acapela – the leading Text To Speech provider in our opinion, which is also favored by the LD community.
On the surface, some may think that Text To Speech only provides the ability to hear the text that is written. While that is one benefit, there are actually many more benefits which stem from TTS. Using Ginger Software, a student who may have dyslexia is able to write a sentence and then listen to their writing. This enables them to decide if what they have composed is correct. If they are not sure, they are able to choose a word from the list of alternative choices (shown below), which are also supported by TTS, to swap into their sentence. The user can now listen to the same sentence with the alternative word used to really decide which word would be the best fit for their sentence.
Not only does Ginger’s Text To Speech offer the ability to enhance sentence correction, but for writers who struggle with pronunciation, they are also able to hear proper word pronunciation. This is very helpful for building better speech and literacy skills. While using Ginger’s TTS, users will watch as each word being read is highlighted, enabling the user to visually identify and match sounds to words. Through auditory repetition users with LD are able to hear the each word they struggle with, in the end improving their speech.
Ginger provides its users with the ability to hear the initial sentence they have written- which will be read phonetically, as well as the sentence with all of the suggested corrections. This enables users to really identify the errors they have made and improve their writing. A Ginger user needs to simply click on the corresponding speaker icon shown below to hear either their initial sentence or the corrected sentence.
Additionally, Ginger provides a number of Text To Speech options. Users are able to increase or decrease the reading speed allowing them to find a comfortable pace to work with. Finally, Ginger also offers a variety of voice options such as male and female, adult and child, and US or UK accent providing users with the customized experience necessary in these modern times.
To learn more about Ginger’s TTS capabilities visit our Text To Speech Page.
Jun 17th , 2010
Brian S. Friedlander, PhD
To say the least, these have been challenging times for schools. Schools across the United States are feeling the impact of the recession and the tough economic climate. This has had a significant impact on budgets; schools are in a position where, unfortunately, they have had to cut teachers and services to students in their school districts. It would seem that just as we are about to round the corner and are making strides in improving the achievement of students in our schools, the rug has been pulled from under us. Schools will have to do more with less. Many institutions who find themselves in this position have been looking for grants and foundation money to help support their programs and provide quality education services to their students.
During this past year, I have been able to provide assistive technology consulting services to many schools under President Obama’s, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. One of the priorities under this Act was the purchase of assistive technology and professional development to insure the equipment was being used properly. Many schools that I have worked with have budgeted for the purchase of assistive technology software and services which truly support students in the classroom. While many schools have already planned how they will be spending their grant money, there is still one more year under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for schools to invest in assistive technology and professional services. Now is a great time to sit down with your stakeholders and look to see how you can support students in the mainstream with assistive technology. Using programs like Ginger can help support students in the mainstream and assist them in their written language skills. Teachers who are using Ginger in the classroom could use the Frequent Error Reports to easily track students’ progress and the errors they make. Having a snapshot of each student’s errors is a great way to chart their progress and provide them with the personalized instruction that they need. The reports also provide great visibility to the levels of writing of all the students in the school, providing principles and administrators with valuable statistics on the amounts of text written, the kinds of errors all students are making, and their progress. Administrators can identify effective instruction methods which may be adopted school wide. In order for schools to become more efficient, they will need to look to instructional and assistive technologies that can provide students with the support they need and educators with the data to support it.
As school budgets continue to shrink, it will become more important for schools to take advantage of grant and foundation money they can use to support their assistive technology programs. In recent months, many states have applied for the Phase 2 of Race to the Top Funds, which was designed to promote State Departments of Education to adopt new policies and practices for school wide reform. Phase 2 of Race to the Top Fund is a $3.4 billion dollar grant that will be awarded at the end of the summer. It is important for educators to be aware of these programs and start a dialogue as to how this money will be spent for new and innovative educational practices. Some schools will be using this money to purchase computers and software- a great way to support students in the mainstream. To keep abreast of grants and other funding resources you may visit: http://www.eschoolnews.com/funding/