Both Kurzweil and Read & Write, Gold are educational assistive technologies that convert text to speech, and include reading, writing, and study skills tools. These programs can be used with students of varying abilities, and are particularly effective for students with reading and writing challenges as well as English Language Learners. Both programs are used in elementary and high schools, but what are the similarities and differences between these technologies?
Reading the Web:
- Users can have web pages read to them using the same highlighting and text-to-speech functions they would use when having a word document read to them.
- Users can extract information from web pages using the highlighting functions.
- Both have an easy-to-use talking dictionary built-in to the web reading functions.
- Only Kurzweil has the option to magnify each word that is being read. This is helpful for individuals with visual impairments. It also helps users focus on the spelling of each word.
- Only RRG has a function to read inaccessible text that has been locked, using the ‘screenshot’ reader (such as text embedded in images).
- RRG’s dictionary option has more features, including how a word can be used as different parts of speech (i.e. noun, adjective, verb, adverb).
Creating MP3 Files
- Both programs allow you to create MP3 and WAV audio files from selected text.
- Only Kurzweil allows an unlimited number of characters for any conversion.
- RRG has a maximum of 10 000 characters for each recording.
Study Skills Toolbar:
- Both include highlighting function, wherein users can highlight and extract text into a separate document for quick organization of information.
- Both include word list extraction features.
- Both have synonym options; RRG calls it a ‘Word Wizard’.
- Both have dictionary and thesaurus options.
- Kurzweil has annotation, sticky notes, voice notes, and bookmark features.
- Kurzweil has a ‘bubble notes’ option which allows teachers to embed questions and instructions to assigned reading to help students stay on task and support reading comprehension.
- Kurzweil has several options for pre-made, fillable graphic organizers that are designed for different project types. The user starts by filling out a simple organizer, which can be transferred to an outline producer and draft outline (all within the confines of the program).
- Read & Write has what is called a ‘Fact Mapper’. Users can create text or visual mind-maps that can be exported to a Microsoft Word outline.
- Both have a word prediction feature to assist students who struggle with spelling.
- Both programs allow users to scan documents and apply program features to them.
- English text can be translated into Spanish, French, Italian, and German
- RRG gives the user access to any voice installed on the computer, including ones from Kurzweil.
- RRG can highlight all homophones/confusable words in any text and users can access a special homophone dictionary.
- RRG compiles a list of the user’s common spelling errors and user history.
- RRG has a text to speech calculator.
- RRG has speech to text input.
Overall, these programs have many similar functions and capabilities to help support student learning. Kurzweil has some extended study skills features, however, all work must be imported directly into the program. Read & Write Gold allows the user to take advantage of its tools while working in the context of different programs (i.e. MS Word, Power Point, etc.), and includes bonus features such as the text-to-speech calculator and a user history log. If you would like more information on either of these programs, check out the links below:
Kurzweil Home Page: http://www.kurzweiledu.com/ki-3000-v13-windows-features.html
Read & Write Gold Home Page:
For information about one to one Kurzweil training in Toronto, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at (416) 925-1225 or visit our website www.ruthrumack.com.
Ruth Rumack has been a full-time teacher and educator since 1996. Visit her Google+ page to find out more about early childhood education.