Tag Archives: iOS

Dolphin EasyReader App for Android and iOS

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.

My Libraries section of Dolphin EasyReader
My Libraries section

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.

Text being read on Dolphin EasyReader App

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.

VitalSource for textbooks through Bookshare

Accessing your online textbooks doesn’t have to be a hassle! If you use Bookshare and have a Mac or Windows laptop/computer, you can use VitalSource to read your textbooks. Here’s how:

Download the Bookshelf app. This app is available for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Mac, PC, and Chromebook.

iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, PC, and Chromebook logos

Create an account, if you don’t already have one.

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.

Screenshot of page when trying to download a book as an EPUB file.
How to download EPUB file of book

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.

Search and Table of Contents icons

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!


iBooks App for Audiobooks on Apple Devices

If you use an Apple device (like a MacBook or an iPad) and want to access your Bookshare audio books, download the iBooks app! Read on to learn about how to navigate and use this resource.


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.

Screenshot of page when trying to download a book as an EPUB file.
How to download EPUB file of book

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.

Screenshot of how to get iBooks to read book aloud.
Getting iBooks to read aloud

How do I get iBooks to stop reading my book aloud? Right click and select ‘More’ then ‘Stop Speaking.”


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.

Bookshare Web Reader

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.

Chrome, Sarafi, Internet Explorer, and Firefox logos

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.
  • Settings (O)
  • 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)
Web reader buttons
Wed Reader buttons

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.

Visual and audio settings
Visual and audio settings

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.

Getting to Know Read&Write

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.

While I will only be referencing a few main features here, feel free to visit this page filled with user guides for every device and  this guide specifically for Read&Write on Chrome


**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.

Keep in mind that along with downloading the Read&Write software for your device, you can also download it to your Google Chrome web browser so you can read straight from websites. Click here to download the Read&Write extension for Google Chrome. You can also watch video guides on YouTube!

If you’re not sure which tools might be most helpful for you, visit the Tools for Specific Populations page

Play button icon for Text to Speech Feature
Text to Speech
Dictionary icon for Talking Dictionary feature
Talking Dictionary
Picture Dictionary icon
Picture Dictionary
Highlighter icon
Settings icon

Tips for Bookshare

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!

On your Assistive Technology Device

Claro ScanPen for iOS and Android

Claro ScanPen logo Broadly speaking, there are two types of apps:

(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.

Screenshot of camera view of Claro ScanPen

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.

Screenshot of Claro ScanPen reading aloud text that has been highlighted after swiping

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.

Claro ScanPen settings screenshot

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.

Screenshot of Claro ScanPen cropping a page

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.

Office Lens

Office Lens logoUpdated May 1, 2020 with new Immersive Reader feature.

Mobile scanning apps offer incredible benefits for many types of users.

  • Trying to reduce paper clutter? Take a photo of it and recycle the original paper or return the library book.
  • Trying to be better organized? File your scans in a cloud-based notebook like OneNote so you can easily find them when needed.
  • Using text-to-speech because of dyslexia? Use your phone to snap a shot of that classroom handout and then load it into Voice Dream or another text-to-speech app.

While there are lots of mobile scanning apps out there, Office Lens is free, simple, powerful – and now has text-to-speech built in. Here’s how I used it with my iPad to snap and save a scan of our library’s Interlibrary Loan bookmark

1) Open Office Lens and hold your device to allow the app to frame the shot for you.

Screenshot of Office Lens framing the bookmark

I’m choosing to capture this as a document, as this will (1) cause Office Lens to ignore everything not in the frame and (2) will automatically run optical character recognition (OCR) on the shot to recognize the text. Choosing to capture a whiteboard would be appropriate for taking a shot of the whiteboard after a class. In either case, don’t worry if you are taking your shot at an angle–Office Lens will crop and present it as if you were shooting straight on.

2) Next, what do you want to do with your scan? You can easily export it to a number of Windows apps. Go ahead–put that whiteboard scan into a PowerPoint. Use your scan of a page from a physical book to paste a quote into a Word document. Save a scan of that handout to the course notebook you are keeping in OneNote. Or just email it to a friend.

Screenshot of Office Lens Export options

3) If you want to use text-to-speech to listen to your newly OCRed document, create a PDF and use iOS sharing to open it in Voice Dream.

Screenshot of iOS share Screenshot of Voice Dream reading the bookmark

Or export to OneDrive and open it in Read & Write‘s PDF Aloud on your laptop.

Screenshot of PDF Aloud reading the bookmark

4) If you want to hear text read aloud, use the Immersive Reader feature. Just take a photo of the document that you want read and click “Export to” then “Immersive Reader.” The app will recognize the text and it will read it aloud to you, once you press the Play Button. You can also increase and decrease font size, change word spacing, move forward and backward in the text, and alter the speaking rate.

Immersive Reader function. Shows application highlighting one word at a time as it reads the test aloud

Office Lens is available for iOS and Android.

Vital Source Text-to-Speech

VitalSource logoI spent time this week working with a student who wanted to use the text-to-speech feature on her VitalSource e-textbook.

Those of us who work with disabled students in higher education have learned to be skeptical of e-textbooks. The combination of piracy-wary publishers and indifferent platform creators has resulted in most e-books being inaccessible to students with dyslexia and others who require text-to-speech for equal access. When I last tried VitalSource’s platform (back when it was CourseSmart), there was a way for many books to be read aloud through text-to-speech, but it was cumbersome to say the least. A look at VitalSource’s new platform shows some limited improvement.

Use of text-to-speech in a VitalSource book requires downloading and installing their Bookshelf desktop app. I worked with my student’s PC laptop, but a Mac app is available as well. Once installed, the student can open the book, easily navigate to the desired page, and click on the play button to start reading.

VitalSource desktop app
There are plenty of downsides to VitalSource books, though.

  • Words are not highlighted while being read aloud. This makes it tougher for the reader to follow along.
  • Text-to-speech is not available in the web app.
  • There is no text-to-speech function in the iOS app and, as seen below, Speak Selected Text does not work either.

No "speak" button in iPad appOne day, students will be able to buy completely accessible ebooks. For now, the VitalSource desktop app may be acceptable to some users, but it, along with the rest of the ebook industry, falls short of offering equal access.

Microsoft OneNote

th When working with students in Disability Services and when teaching students of all abilities, I commonly come across students who would benefit from better organization. It’s not uncommon for students to make it through high school without having to keep good track of notes, homework, reading materials, and more. It can be a bit of a shock, then, to enter college and have to keep everything organized for five different classes taught by professors who don’t see it as their job to help you keep it together. What’s a student to do?

I started using OneNote for all of my note taking and organizing about a year ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s one great place to store everything you might need and then access it on all of your devices. For me, this has meant organizing everything from meeting notes to receipts to web articles to recipes. OneNote will also be particularly helpful for students who need help with executive functioning or just want to get organized. Here are some of the most useful features of OneNote along with some of its limitations.

Take Notes

Yes, this is the most obvious and basic feature of OneNote. Type notes into the app and save them in different notebooks and tabs within each notebook. As you’ll see, though, you can do much more than just type notes onto each page.

Web Clipper

Did you come across a great article online for a research paper? Use the OneNote Clipper to quickly and easily save the article in your OneNote.

Save Electronic Documents

Do you need a better system to keep your electronic documents organized? You can save PDFs, Word files, spreadsheets, and more in OneNote. That means you can have a tab devoted to a class you’re taking and you can save everything there–syllabus, class notes, reading assignments, PowerPoint slides, etc.

Photos of Documents

Have a paper document you’d like to save in OneNote so you can always find it wherever you are? Maybe you’d like to convert that paper document to a searchable PDF that you can also have read aloud to you in a text-to-speech app like Voice Dream. Office Lens can do both. An in-depth review of Office Lens will be coming in the future.

If you don’t want to mess around with another app like Office Lens, you can already take pictures of documents and save them in OneNote. OneNote will automatically run OCR on the document, which makes it searchable.

Audio and Video Recording

OneNote will record audio or video through your device’s microphone or camera and save it on a page in a notebook. Microsoft claims that you can type notes at the same time and sync those notes with the audio/video–a really handy tool for studying. On my iPad, though, I can’t do anything else while audio is recording. It seems the syncing feature is only available on Windows devices.


This is a tool I haven’t used, but OneNote allows you to enter and solve some pretty complicated Math problems.


If you are using a touch-screen, you can write in OneNote with a finger or stylus. This could come in handy when taking notes in a class and needing to draw a diagram. You can even convert your handwriting to text if you want it cleaned up and searchable. I haven’t used this tool much, as I don’t have a stylus and find finger-writing clumsy. It also appears that the Lasso Select tool is not available on my iPad version, meaning I had to move to my PC to convert to text. But here’s a quick demonstration. I wrote this on my iPad:

Handwriting in OneNoteAnd then OneNote converted it to text perfectly:

converted handwriting

Syncs Across Multiple Devices

You can install OneNote on your phone, tablet, and computer–or access it on the web–and your notes will sync in real time. Free apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon, and Chromebook. This can be handy for taking notes in class on a tablet and then accessing them later while studying on a laptop.


Do you have a big group project coming up? You can share a notebook with everyone in your group. Everyone’s notes will be stored there so all can access at any time.


While I keep my notebooks organized by tabs, as seen in the images above, all of your notebooks are searchable. So instead of navigating to a particular notebook and then a tab to find find a page, you can simply type a keyword into the search bar. I use this most often by searching for an ingredient that I want to use in a meal. OneNote will spit back at me all of the recipes I saved that have that ingredient in it.

This can be especially useful for studying. If you want to find all of your notes that mention a particular term or concept, OneNote will find them for you. Maybe it will even show you pages from a different class that will help you make connections you would otherwise have missed.


OneNote is free to install on your devices. The data in your notebooks is stored in Microsoft’s cloud storage product, OneDrive. SUNY Cortland students have 50 GB of storage through OneDrive, a pretty good sized amount to get you through your college career. If you have a personal Microsoft account, you currently may access 15 GB of storage free. Microsoft recently announced, though, that they are cutting that back to 5 GB, after which you may pay $2 a month for up to 50 GB or $10 a month for 1 TB and Office 365.

That means that OneNote is essentially free for SUNY Cortland students and others who are light users. My personal storage is getting to the point that I may have to think about a subscription down the road–just what Microsoft wants!


Those are just a few of the features in OneNote that may be most useful. The Google will find you all kinds of more complicated things you can do with it as you grow comfortable with the basic features.