Tag Archives: tests

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!


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

Text-to-Speech for Exams

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