Read & Write: SAS’s new program for your academic toolbox
By: Emma Radel, Copy Editor
This week I tried out a new web program, Read & Write, recently rolled out by Student Accessibility Services (SAS). The creators of Read & Write describe the program as a literacy support tool, and the intention of it is to make reading more accessible. This service is especially useful to students with disabilities or those whose native language is not English, and any person with a “canisius.edu” email address can use it for free! Read & Write can be added as a Google Chrome extension, or you can download it directly onto your computer. I used the Chrome extension over the last week and found it to be extremely helpful.
Read & Write has an array of tools that can make reading text for any subject more accessible, especially for brains like mine. For example, using the Chrome extension, I was able to use the “simplify” function on a New York Times article. “Simplify” opens a new page that has the same text, but without any of the ads that you find on the website version. The simplified text is also workable — you can change the font style, size and even the color of the text and its background!
There are a few tasks I tried out using Read & Write that I found really useful. For example, it offers the ability to highlight text in four different colors and has a “collect highlights” function that pulls all the highlights from a text and puts them into a document that you can choose to organize by chronology or color group. You can also use Read & Write to have a computer read texts aloud to you, if you’re better at learning information auditorily. A few other functions Read & Write has are a picture dictionary, a translator, the ability to add voice notes and “screen masking,” which spotlights just a few lines of text at a time.
I spoke with Angela Bufalino, assistant director of Support Services, about how students can use Read & Write to remove barriers to learning. She explained, “Read & Write would be especially helpful for students with disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, learning disabilities in the area of reading, and those with visual impairments. However, it can be helpful to any student who struggles with reading, writing, or even studying!” As a student with ADHD myself, I found that Read & Write helped me to stay focused on one assignment at a time, but this technology has so many different functions that it really can be useful to anyone.
Canisius SAS has unlimited licenses available for download, and everyone with a Canisius email can access it. Bufalino encouraged everyone to test out the program, regardless of whether or not they’re signed up for accommodations through SAS. To try it out, go to texthelp.com, click “Products,” then “Read & Write,” “Try Read & Write” and select which version of it you want to use.
The service has already been paid for, and there are so many different tools, so I really recommend you give it a try. Bufalino expressed, “We all learn in different ways, and Read & Write can help our students read, write and study in the way that works best for them!”