Thorium Reader is a free way to access EPUB files on your Windows computer.
Thorium is accessible for visually impaired and dyslexic students, and also includes support for high contrast, customizable font, color themes, text size and text-to-speech.
It supports EPUB 3 (both reflow and fixed layout), visual narratives (DiViNa), audiobooks and LCP protected PDF documents.
To get Thorium Reader, scroll down to where you see “Download Thorium Reader”
Click on the appropriate version you would like to download, and it will take you to the download button
Once it is downloaded, you will see a Bookshelf and Reader views.
The Bookshelf view is the first screen you will see. This is where your downloaded books will be, as well as a search button, import a publication, book lists, and more information.
Once you select a book, you will then be in Reader view. There are various controls such as bookmark button, settings button (where you can change the theme, text, etc), navigation button and more.
If you wish, you could set Thorium as your default reader for EPUB on your device, so when you open Thorium and press on “import a publication”, you can browse your device for your EPUB you want to upload.
Another great audiobook app for anyone who uses Android or iOS devices is the Dolphin EasyReader App.
Download the app and create an account, if you don’t already have one.
How do I find books? Once you log in to the app, click the ‘Navigator’ or ‘Library’ icon at the top left of the screen. In the Manage Libraries menu, click ‘Bookshare.’ From here, you will be asked to sign in to your Bookshare account. Now you can search for books in the ‘Manage Libraries’ search bar or you can search for books by category.
How do I download a book? Simply click the ‘Download’ button and wait. Once the download is complete, click ‘Open.’ It’s that simple!
How do I listen to a book? This app is compatible with iOS VoiceOver, iOS supported Braille displays, Android TalkBack, and Android BrailleBack. To access these, go to the Audio Settings in the app. Here, you can change the reader voice.
Can I read about a book before deciding to download it? Yes! Click on any book you might be interested in reading to see more information about it.
Download the book from Bookshare. After logging on to your Bookshare account, search for the book you want to read, open the download format drop-down menu, and select ‘EPUB.’ Hit ‘Download’ and your compatible book will begin downloading to your device. This will open your ‘My History’ page. Click the link next to your book to save it to your device.
Open the book on Bookshelf. Open the Bookshelf up and click ‘File’ then ‘Open.’ Select the EPUB file of the book you have just downloaded and it should open up for you in Bookshelf.
Search through your book. Click the Search icon, then type any keywords you are looking for to find them in your book. Click the Table of Contents icon to navigate to any certain part of the book.
Listen to the book. Use the toolbar at the top of the screen to have the book read aloud. Click ‘Start Reading’ to begin and ‘Stop Reading’ to stop.
*According to the VitalSource website “Text to Speech functionality may not work for all VitalSource titles.” You should contact support if you have any issues with your ebook.
Read through the Bookshelf Overview. This resource serves as a great guide for anyone who is new to using Bookshelf to read their books. It explains how to open and search through your books, as well as how to highlight and take notes. You can also review your notes to study for tests and quizzes!
How do I download a book from Bookshare to my MacBook? After logging on to your Bookshare account, search for the book you want to read, open the download format drop-down menu, and select ‘EPUB.’ Hit ‘Download’ and your compatible book will begin downloading to your device. This will open your ‘My History’ page. Click the link next to your book to save it to your device.
How do I open the book on iBooks? After downloading your EPUB file, select that file and press command + O to open it in iBooks on your laptop/computer.
How do I get iBooks to read my book aloud? Select the text that you want to be read, right click, and select ‘More’ then ‘Start Speaking.’ You could also use the screenshot reader feature on Read & Write to select a page or paragraph, then click Play to listen.
How do I get iBooks to stop reading my book aloud? Right click and select ‘More’ then ‘Stop Speaking.”
USING IBOOKS ON iOS
How do I download a book from Bookshare to my iPad? After logging on to your Bookshare account, search for the book you want to read, open the download format drop-down menu, and select ‘EPUB.’ Hit ‘Download’ and your compatible book will begin downloading to your device. This will open your ‘My History’ page. Click the link next to your book to save it to your device.
How do I open the book on iBooks? After downloading your EPUB file, click the ‘Open in iBooks’ button to open it in iBooks on your iPad.
How do I get iBooks to read my book aloud? Go to ‘Settings’ on your device. Click ‘General’ –> ‘Accessibility’ –> ‘Speech.’ Enable these three features: ‘Speak Selection,’ ‘Speak Screen,’ and ‘Highlight Content.’ Open the iBooks app. To read an entire page, swipe down the screen with two fingers. To read a specific paragraph, tap and hold the text to highlight it, then click ‘Speak.’
How do I get iBooks to stop reading my book aloud? Click the ‘Pause’ button.
Using Bookshare on a computer or laptop means you have access to the Bookshare Web Reader! Read on to learn about how to navigate and use this resource.
Which browsers does the Bookshare Web Reader work with? Google Chrome, Safari, Chromebook, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
How do I read a book with the web reader? Log into Bookshare on a compatible browser, then search for the book you want to read. Click “Read Now” and wait a moment for the reading to load. Click “Play” to hear your reading.
Can I save my spot in a book? Yes! Your device constantly saves whatever place you’re at while you read. Just remember that this won’t work across multiple devices. So if you start reading a book on your laptop, then switch to your phone, Bookshare won’t remember where you were.
How do I go back to a saved spot in a book? Log into Bookshare, then click “History.” Find the book you’re looking for and click “Read Now” to open the book to where you left off. Click “Play” to resume the reading at the top of the current page.
What do all of the buttons on the web reader mean? Each button is listed below, followed by a picture that shows them all. You can use these features either by pressing the corresponding buttons or by using the keyboard shortcuts, shown in parenthesis, next to each feature below.
Table of Contents (T) – Takes you to the table of contents in the book you are reading.
Previous (2) – Go back one page.
Next (1) – Go forward one page.
Play (P) – Begin reading audio aloud.
Night Mode On/Off (N) – Changes brightness of screen.
Full Screen On/Off (F) – Changes size of screen.
Help (H) – Use this for any questions.
Show/Hide Toolbar (X)
Can I customize the visual settings? Of course! Click Settings on the toolbar to change the font, font size, text color, background color, display format, and margins.
What about the audio settings? You can customize those too! Click Settings on the toolbar to change the reader’s voice and the speed at which they read.
What is this BeeLine Reader feature? Another great part about Bookshare is their BeeLine Reader feature which helps you keep track of which line you are on as you read. It does this by applying a color gradient to the text, helping to separate each line from the ones above and below it. Select a book on your Bookshare account and then click ‘Read Now’ to open the Web Reader. Go to the Web Reader Settings to activate BeeLine Reader and then customize your settings from there. Make sure to click ‘Save’ once you set your preferences!
For more information or to learn about Bookshare in a different format, consider watching this video.
Read&Write, while incredibly useful, can seem a bit overwhelming at first. There are lots of features and customizations to make – it can be daunting when you first get started. Our hope is that this guide can serve as a quick reference for anyone learning to use Read&Write.
**Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what these symbols looks like!**
Reading a scannable document
Text to Speech: Reads text for you. Place your cursor next to whatever part of the document you want to read. Then click the play button icon.
Talking Dictionary: Provides written definitions of unknown words. Highlight whatever you want to define. Then click the dictionary icon.
Picture Dictionary: Provides visual definitions of unknown words. Highlight whatever you want to define. Then click the picture dictionary icon.
Highlighters: Highlights any amount of text. Select (highlight) whatever you want to highlight. Then click the corresponding highlighter color.
Reading any other document
Screenshot Reader: Allows you to read parts of a website without having to have a browser extension. Also allows you to read inaccessible documents that can’t be scanned. Click the screenshot icon and drag a box around what you want to read. This sometimes takes a moment to load. You can replay the text by clicking the play button on the bottom right corner (instead of having to reselect the area of text).
Customizing your reading experience
Settings: Change the reading voice, speed, language, and more. I recommend playing around with different voices to see which one works best for you. Click the settings icon to access all of these customizable features.
Bookshare is a very helpful tool for anyone who needs or prefers audiobooks to physical ones. Getting started can be a bit overwhelming, so here are some tips for using Bookshare on all of your devices!
On your computer or laptop
If you use Windows you can read through the Bookshare Web Reader or Open Lore Reader.
If you use Apple you can read through the Bookshare Web Reader or the iBooks application.
If you use a Chromebook you can read through the Bookshare Web Reader or the Capti Voice application.
On you tablet or smartphone
If you use an Android you can use Dolphin EasyReader, Voice Dream Reader, or Go Read.
If you use iOS you can use Dolphin EasyReader, Voice Dream Reader, or Capti Voice.
If you use a Kindle or other e-book reader you can use any Bookshare compatible apps. Kindles don’t have any of these apps but you can still read your Bookshare books on them!
Welcome “back” students. Unfortunately, most of us won’t actually be coming back on campus for the remainder of our classes this semester because of all the safety measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Don’t worry, though! These changes don’t mean that you won’t receive your accommodations!
If you are a student who utilizes the Disability Resource Office to have your exams read to you, you can use the same technology that we have on campus while you are at home this semester! You will also still get any extended time that you would normally have!
Below are the steps you should follow, should you need this resource:
Install Read & Write on your computer. Here are the steps for installation. After you have it installed, you’ll want to make sure it’s set up for your Internet browser.
Mac Users: If you use Safari, you’re all set. If you use Chrome or Firefox, install the browser extension if you want to use Read & Write on the Internet.
Windows Users: If you use Edge, you’re all set. If you use Chrome or Firefox, install the browser extension if you want to use Read & Write on the Internet.
Test Read & Write on the Blackboard site.
Since you will be taking most of your online exams through Blackboard, you should make sure that you are able to click different areas using your cursor and Read & Write to listen to the words on the screen.
Practice using the screenshot reader tool on Read & Write.
Sometimes professors will “Lockdown” tests on Blackboard so that you aren’t able to use Read & Write like you normally would (by clicking with your cursor)
In these cases, use the screenshot reader feature in Read & Write to select an area of the screen and then have the program scan that area before it reads it back to you. Here is a post with directions for using the screenshot tool.
Open Read & Write before beginning an exam.
In some cases, like when professors “Lockdown” tests, you will not be able to open Read & Write after opening a test. Make sure you have it open and ready to go before going to your test!
Reach out to Jeremy if you have any problems with Read & Write.
Contact him at Jeremy.Zhe-Heimerman@cortland.edu
He can help you install the software, use the software, and work with your instructors
(1) those that have lots of features to accomplish lots of different things and
(2) simple apps that do one or two things.
Claro ScanPen fits in the second category. Do you have dyslexia and occasionally end up with a piece of paper in front of you that you really wish could be read aloud? This may be the app for you.
Open Claro ScanPen and you’ll see what looks like the usual camera interface for your phone or tablet.
Take a photo of your document. Swipe the line you want read aloud to you and the app will read it out loud. The app draws on your system voices or allows you to purchase additional voices for a small fee.
That’s it! It’s easy to use from the first time you open the app.
Now, let’s say you want to get fancy. You can change the settings to have the entire page or just a word read out loud. Also, from the system settings, you can set the app to allow cropping or to allow multiple images to be saved and swapped between.
One caveat is that, as expected, poor image quality and/or small print will adversely affect the optical character recognition and result in gobbledygook speech output. As such, this app is best used with high quality documents, decent-sized print, and a steady hand.
For example, below is a photo of an article in the process of being cropped. Claro ScanPen nicely recognized that the “Take Action” column on the left was separate and it didn’t try to read it at the same time as the rest of the article. However, it did fumble many of the words while reading aloud, likely because of the fairly small print.
Claro ScanPen is free for Android and $6.99 for iOS. If you use Android and ever need a document read to you, I recommend you check it out. If you use iPhone or iPad, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the money for this quick and simple app or if you’d rather stick with a free, but clunkier, option – OfficeLens in combination with a full-feature app like Voice Dream or the built-in iOS text-to-speech.
A student recently introduced me to a text-to-speech app that he’s been using on his Android phone. @Voice Aloud Reader is free and he pointed out that it gets better reviews that Voice Dream’s Android app, so I knew I needed to try it out myself. I found that it’s a useful and simple text-to-speech app that anyone with an Android device who wants to listen to text should give a try.
Like many text-to-speech readers, users can copy and paste text into it. I was most interested, though, in how easily a user can take a PDF off of cloud storage and listen in @Voice. It worked quite well.
Below is a PDF open in the OneDrive app.
Tap on the three dot button on the far left to reveal the menu that allows one to “Open in another app.”
Choose @Voice Aloud Reader.
It will then open directly in @Voice and begin reading. While it will not highlight each word while reading, it will highlight each sentence.
As seen above, the image of of the PDF is lost, as the file is converted to just text. As long as the PDF is properly formatted, this shouldn’t present much of a problem.
Settings allow one to easily change the speed and the voice. Voices do not come directly with @Voice, as it works with the built-in Google Text-to-Speech Voices. If you’re not happy with the default voice, @Voice’s settings will allow you to easily find new Google voices or will refer you to other vendors to purchase additional high quality voices.
There are other ways to get readings into @Voice. It will sync directly with Dropbox. A desktop/laptop Chrome extension allows a user to add an article to an @Voice list to listen to later. And saved Pocket articles can open easily too.
@Voice Aloud Reader is a great option for those looking for a free text-to-speech Android app. If the ads on the screen bother you, they can removed for $10. While it will allow for the creation of mp3 files of articles, it doesn’t have as much functionality as Voice Dream, our go-to text-to-speech app. The word is that Voice Dream for Android is a bit buggier than the iOS Voice Dream app and does not have all of the same features, although we’re hopeful that a recent update improves things. Of course, there is not a free version of Voice Dream, so those of us watching our money may wish to try the free @Voice Aloud Reader first.