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The Complete Guide to the TextAid Literacy Support System

March 10, 2022 by Amy Foxwell
The Complete Guide to the TextAid Literacy Support System

TextAid is an all-in-one literacy support tool for struggling readers and writers. This web-based platform uses ReadSpeaker’s top-quality text-to-speech (TTS) technology to translate written documents into spoken language. It is a tool that helps students overcome accessibility challenges while reading, writing, and studying.

But TextAid doesn’t stop with TTS. It includes a full suite of assistive technology services to improve every learner’s reading comprehension, as well as their confidence, motivation, and independence. In short, TextAid is a one-stop shop for literacy support.

Here’s a guide to the many features that make TextAid the ideal assistive technology for readers, writers, and students at every level.

The TextAid Guide Table of Contents

Click on the links below for an introduction to each TextAid feature, along with simple directions for use (including video guidance).

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1. The TextAid Personal Library

All TextAid users have access to the personal library, where you can upload documents from your computer or the internet, as well as save documents you have written using the text editor in TextAid. These documents are accessible no matter what device you use to log in to your TextAid account, whether that’s your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any other internet-connected device.

Watch our quick video to get a feel for the TextAid personal library, or keep reading for directions on using this feature.

Adding, Opening, Editing, and Deleting Files in the TextAid Personal Library

Reach the personal library by clicking this icon Personal library icon - TextAid in the TextAid toolbar. A pop-up will then invite you to open a file, or upload a new file to your library. You can see the last time the file was changed, as well as the file type (read-only document or text document).

Read-only documents, as seen by this icon Read-only document icon - TextAid, will open within the document reader in TextAid. Editable texts, as seen by this icon Editable text icon - TextAid, will open within TextAid’s “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) text editor. Read-only documents can also be downloaded as PDF files, by clicking on the icon Download icon- TextAid. If you’re finished with a document, go ahead and delete it by clicking the icon of the trashcan Trashcan icon - TextAid.

Changing Settings in the TextAid Personal Library

By clicking the settings icon Settings icon - TextAid, you can select the language in which you’d like the document to be read aloud.

Sharing Files With the TextAid Personal Library

As a coordinator or TextAid administrator, you can use the personal library to upload documents that can then be shared with particular users and/or groups of users. Simply click the ‘share’ icon Share icon - TextAid, then determine which groups and/or users will have access to the document.

Using the Personal Library for Document Organization and Access

Use the personal library to keep track of your documents, and make changes or corrections to your texts whenever the mood strikes. Because you have access to your personal library on all your internet-connected devices, your documents are at your fingertips whenever you need them. Thanks to integrated TTS capabilities, ReadSpeaker TextAid allows readers to listen to their documents anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected device.

2. TextAid Research Tools

TextAid offers two different features for researching information: Web Search and Wiki Lookup. The former conducts a Google search, while the latter searches Wikipedia. Both features are available in the text editor. When you use the text editor and come across an unfamiliar word or phrase, TextAid makes it easy to discover more information about this word or phrase.

Conducting Instant Online Research with TextAid

Simply select the word or phrase using your cursor, or using the keyboard shortcuts. A menu will then pop up, giving you the option to do one of three things:

Listen Icon - TextAid Listen

Search the web for this - TextAid Web Search

Look up online - TextAid Wiki Lookup

Selecting Web Search instructs TextAid to run a Google search for the word or phrase. The results of the Google search will open in a new browser window.

Selecting Wiki Lookup instructs it to search Wikipedia for the word or phrase. Note that not all words or phrases have their own Wikipedia articles.

Choosing Between the Two Online Research Tools

Depending on the unfamiliar word or phrase and the sort of information you are looking for, either Google or Wikipedia may be more suitable. Here’s some guidance on which tool to use in a few common learning situations:

  • If you’re confused about the definition of a particular word, a quick click of Web Search will bring various search results in Google containing the definition. The same is true for phrases.
  • If you want more information about a particular subject, Wiki Lookup is the way to go. Wikipedia provides hundreds of thousands of articles on nearly any topic you can think of, from “amicable numbers” to the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”
  • Regardless of which tool you choose, TextAid’s web-reading functionality allows you to listen to results with lifelike TTS voices.

In TextAid, online research is just a click away.

3. Web Reading with Text to Speech

Using TextAid’s web reading feature, you can listen to nearly any website. Here’s your video introduction to web reading with TextAid:

Installing the TextAid Web Reading Tool in Your Browser

To begin, make sure your bookmarks toolbar is visible in your browser. Here’s how to enable the bookmarks toolbar in a few common web browsers:

  • In Google Chrome, click the icon Settings icon - Google Chrome in the top right. Navigate to Bookmarks, and make sure the Show bookmarks bar is checked.
  • In Safari, click Bookmarks on the menu bar, then click Show bookmarks.
  • In Mozilla Firefox, click the icon Settings icon - Mozilla Firefox in the top right, then click Show bookmark toolbar.
  • In Microsoft Edge, click the settings icon Settings icon - Microsoft Edge in the upper right hand corner. Then make sure that ‘Show the favorites bar’ is set to ‘On.’

After you’ve made the bookmarks bar visible, go to TextAid, and open the Web reading tool, identifiable by the icon Web reading tool - TextAid. Follow the instructions and drag the link to the TextAid Web Reader to the bookmarks bar of your browser.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed the TextAid Web Reader tool.

Using Web Reader to Listen to Online Text

To use the tool, navigate to a website you would like to listen to. Once you’re on the page, click the bookmark TextAid Web Reader in your bookmarks bar. The ReadSpeaker Listen button will then appear on the page.

You can position the Listen button wherever you’d like on the page. To start listening, select text with your cursor, then click Listen.

Other Features of TextAid’s Web Reader

The TextAid Web Reader tool offers more than TTS. Change the reading language by clicking Web reading tool - TextAid. Additionally, automatically copy and paste the selected text into TextAid by selecting text, then clicking Add the selected text into TextAid icon. The text will then be shown in the TextAid text editor. This web-reading functionality allows you to listen to almost any online content.

4. Personalized Settings

TextAid’s personalized settings allow you to customize your TextAid experience exactly as you want. There are three different settings you can personalize:

  • Voice settings
  • Text settings
  • Highlighting settings

This video explains how to personalize these TextAid settings:

Changing TextAid Voice Settings

To personalize Voice settings, click the icon Voice settings icon - TextAid. Here, you can change the reading language as well as the reading speed. To test your settings, listen to a short sample sentence in your reading language by clicking Play. Don’t like the changes you’ve made? You can always click Reset to Default to return to the default reading language and speed for your account.

Changing TextAid Text Settings

To personalize Text settings, click the icon Text settings icon - TextAid. Adjust the text color and background color of the entire text. Additionally, adjust the text size, making it larger or smaller to suit your needs. Different font faces are also available, including Open Dyslexic, as well as serif and sans-serif fonts. Adjust the spacing between lines. The Example box at the bottom of the window shows how your text will look. You can always reset to default should you dislike the changes you’ve made.

Changing TextAid Highlighting Settings

Finally, personalize Highlighting settings with the icon Highlighting settings icon TextAid. Change the color of the highlighted word, as well as the highlighted sentence. Also change the text color of the highlighted word and sentence. You can also turn off highlighting, should you desire. Don’t worry, you can always reset settings to default.

The best part about these personalized settings is they’re completely personal to your account. Next time you log into your TextAid account, from whatever Internet-connected device, your settings will be saved and available, so you can experience TextAid exactly how you want, every time.

5. Language Translation in TextAid

TextAid allows you to translate text both online and in documents from one language to another, with more than 20 languages supported. That makes TextAid the ideal speak-and-translate app for language learners.

This video explains how to use the translation feature:

Languages Supported by TextAid’s Auto-Translate Tool

At the time of publication, TextAid supports the following languages through its translator-and-speaker tool:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Croatian
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latvian
  • Norwegian (Bokmål)
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

Using the TextAid Translation Tool

Whether you’re consuming online content or a document, just select the text you’d like to translate. Then click Translate in the menu bar. Choose the language you want to read, then you can listen to the text in your language of choice; it’s really that simple.

6. Writing Assistance

TextAid doesn’t just support readers; it also includes a TTS feature that reads the user’s writing out loud to improve writing skills. This video explains how TextAid’s writing assistance tool works:

Activating the TextAid Writing Assistance Tool

To access the writing assistance tool, make sure you are in the text editor. Click the Writing assistance tool icon TextAid icon to open the writing assistance tool. The default setting in TextAid has the writing assistance tool turned off, so you’ll need to turn it on.

Changing Settings in the Writing Assistance Tool

You can select three different settings for the writing assistance tool:

  • Reading aloud each letter as it is typed
  • Reading aloud each word as it is typed
  • Reading aloud each sentence as it is typed

Choose any combination of these three options. The options you have chosen can be seen in the example window. Changing Settings in the Writing Assistance Tool - Example Window - TextAid

When you select Letter, each letter will be read aloud as it is typed. When you select Word, a completed word will be read aloud when the space bar is pushed, as the space signals the end of the word. When you select Sentence, completed sentences will be read aloud when the period is entered, followed by a space to indicate the next sentence.

Use the writing assistance tool to check your spelling, and check the fluency of your sentences by having them read aloud. Listening to your own writing is a great way to ensure your text has a good flow. This is dedicated text to speech for writers.

7. Image to Text

Most TTS assistive devices fail to read text embedded in images, and TextAid is no different—which is why it translates text in images into a format that it can read aloud. That’s especially important for text-heavy formats like PDFs: The image needs to be converted to text, which is where this functionality comes in.

Learn more about TextAid’s image-to-text feature in this short video:

How TextAid’s Image to Text Feature Works

This tool uses OCR, which stands for Optical Character Recognition. OCR is the electronic conversion of images of text into machine-encoded text. In other words, OCR “looks” at the image, and makes the text in the image readable by the computer. Please note that the OCR used by ReadSpeaker TextAid will not convert handwritten text.

Using Image to Text in TextAid

To access this tool, click the Image to text tool icon - TextAid icon. Choose the image file stored on your device that you would like to convert to text to upload. Then, select the language of your document from the dropdown menu and select the folder to which you would like to save the document.

Finally, decide what you want to do with the document—do you want it to be read-only or do you want to be able to edit the text? Once you’ve decided, click Start, and the image-to-text process will begin. Once the conversion is finished, access your newly-converted document in the folder to which you saved it.

8. Literacy Support Tools

Lots of readers benefit from focus tools, which help them keep track of lines of text. TextAid provides several of these features, including a screen mask and a reading ruler. There’s even a speech-enabled calculator to support literacy in math education.

Watch this video to explore TextAid’s literacy support tools, or keep reading for directions.

Accessing TextAid Literacy Support and Focus Tools

TextAid’s literacy tools can be found under the icon Literacy tool icon - TextAid. The screen mask and reading ruler tools both have the same function: to allow the reader to focus on a specific portion of the text.

  • The screen masking tool can be accessed via this icon Screen masking tool icon - TextAid. The tool masks the entire page, making it darker, except for a horizontal bar that the reader can move up and down to follow along with the text.
  • The reading ruler, accessed via the icon Reading ruler icon - TextAid, works along the same principles, only instead of masking the page, the reading ruler is a horizontal gray bar that the reader can move down the page, line by line. This way, the specific line that is being read comes more easily into focus.
  • ReadSpeaker TextAid also features a calculator accessed via the icon Calculator icon - TextAid, which can be speech-enabled as well. Select the box marked Enable speech.

Use these literacy tools to make your TextAid experience as beneficial as possible.

9. Document Folders

Folders are a useful way to keep your documents organized, and they’re easy to create and access within TextAid. This video shows you how:

Creating Folders in TextAid

To create a folder in TextAid, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click the library icon Personal library icon - TextAid.
  2. Click Create folder at the top of the window.
  3. Give your folder an appropriate name.

When you save a document, you select which folder you would like the document to be saved to. The next time you want to open the document, it will be in the selected folder.

10. TTS Audio Downloads

It’s often helpful to listen to textbooks, educational online content, or even your own writing offline, through any audio device. TextAid allows users to download TTS files of web content and documents alike. This video introduces the audio download tool:

Using the TextAid Audio Download Tool

The download audio tool can be found under the icon Download icon - TextAid. This feature will create an audio file of the same TTS file you would hear when you click Listen within the TextAid window. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you have the text editor open in TextAid, the download audio tool will create an audio file of the entire text.
  • If you have a document open in TextAid (PDF), the download audio tool will produce an audio file of the current page open in the document.
  • To create audio of the entire document, you will need to use the download audio tool once per page.

Use the download audio tool to study offline, download the files, and then upload them to your different devices. Additionally, listen to your own written texts as a way to check for fluency.

11. Spell Check

An integrated spell check tool helps writers focus on their thoughts, not the dictionary. Watch this video for a quick introduction to TextAid’s spell check feature, and find a written explanation below.

How the TextAid Spell Check Feature Works

The spell check tool can be found under the icon Spell check tool icon - TextAid in the Text Editor. When you click the spell check icon, the tool will check the spelling of text within the editor window, in any language you have selected (selected language can be seen on the right in the toolbar).

All misspelled words will be underlined in red. To correct spelling, follow these steps:

  1. Click on a word marked by that red underline.
  2. The spell check tool will then provide a list of options. Click the correct option.
  3. The spelling of the word will automatically be changed in the text editor.
  4. If you believe the word is not misspelled, and was marked incorrectly, select Ignore to ignore one instance of the word, or select Ignore All to ignore all instances of the word.

Happy spelling!

12. Word Prediction

TextAid’s word prediction tool is a valuable writing assistance feature, and can help to improve a student’s writing and reading skills at once. Here’s a video introduction to word prediction with TextAid:

How to Use Word Prediction in TextAid

The word prediction tool can be turned on using the icon: Writing assistance tool - TextAid. The tool will suggest different options for the completion of the word that is being written as well as the following word.

With time, the tool is trained to respond to each individual user, learning from what the reader writes in order to better predict words, creating a personalized writing support experience.

13. Highlighter Online Tool

An online highlighter tool helps with organization and develops study skills, improving both writing and reading results. Watch our quick video to see how it works:

Explaining the TextAid Highlighter

The Highlighter can be accessed using the icon: Highlighter tool icon - TextAid. The tool allows users to highlight passages in different colors, and later collect the text to make a summary. The summary can then be made into a ReadSpeaker TextAid text that the user can edit, print, or download as a Word or PDF file.

14. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) for Learning Management Systems (LMS)

ReadSpeaker TextAid now fully supports integration into all major Learning Management Systems (LMS) as an “LTI Tool.” But what is an LTI tool? LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability. This designation gives us a standard way of integrating different learning applications with LMS or other educational environments.

Learn about integrating TextAid into your LMS in this video:

LTI tools are important because they enable a seamless user experience across a variety of learning solutions, making it easier for teachers and students to use new educational technology. With ReadSpeaker TextAid LTI, our customers can now enjoy the advantages of LTI.

All LTI capable LMSs are supported, including Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas, and Moodle®. This means that ReadSpeaker TextAid can be made available to students through the LMS without the need for special user registration/sign-up or additional login.

This makes ReadSpeaker TextAid perfect to give to students as a personal reading and writing tool that leverages bimodal presentation of content and Universal Design for Learning concepts, which are particularly effective for struggling learners and second-language students where text to speech boosts results, confidence, and motivation, and keeps students at grade-level.

Try TextAid in Your Home or Classroom Today

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