Using Imaging to Assist Special Needs Learners
Imaging software translates hard-copy pages into their equivalent digital image or text files. While this resource can be used effectively to supplement lessons for sighted students, those who are sight impaired need more than images or text. A unique type of imaging software, called Optical Braille Recognition (OBR) software, serves these students and their teachers by using a scanner to translate Braille. OBR software enables the teacher to scan a Braille page and translate it into text for the teacher and for sighted students. Further, the text file can be saved, stored, and later used with a Braille printer to recreate the original Braille document. This imaging software makes it possible for non-Braille readers to read documents used by sight-impaired students, to archive Braille books, and to reprint Braille pages when needed.
For learning-disabled students, another scanner and software serves to help those with reading disorders. The reading pen is a scanner built into a pen-shaped device that contains a small screen display and speaker. The student can move the pen across a word or line of text, much like a highlighter, and the built-in imaging software recognizes the words and finds them in its internal dictionary. The student can then select to have the word or passage pronounced aloud or have the screen display present the word's meaning from the dictionary, synonyms from the thesaurus, or the syllabication of the words. This small handheld imaging device makes it possible for reading-challenged students to get immediate support as they read.
Another imaging software package scans printed pages and reads them aloud to sight-impaired and learning-disabled students. Any text from the printed page, the Web, or an electronic file may be scanned and read aloud to the student. Further, the software visually highlights the text as it is read. This type of imaging product can also help students take tests by first scanning them, then reading them to the student who needs this additional support.
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