Thanks to Wyn Mc Cormack of Dyslexia Courses Ireland for this very useful information which is very timely in the current situation with schools closed again and a return to online learning.
Digital copies of books are very useful for students with dyslexia as it enables them to see and hear the text. The educational publishers make digital copies of textbooks available. It may be the PDF file of the book with images and graphics stripped out or the eBook version.
There is a problem with the integration of iPad assistive technology software with some eBook versions of textbooks. This may mean the book cannot be read aloud on the device. However the educational publishers are working to overcome this incompatibility. This article describes the situation as of January 2021.
Bookshare Ireland is the largest accessible library in the country available for all people with visual impairment or print disabilities. The service is available to students with dyslexia. Launched in November 2019, it is a partnership between the National Council of the Blind and the Department of Education and Skills. It is a free service for those who qualify with over half a million books, which are available in a range of formats including audio, digital Braille, Word, and PDF. For the student with dyslexia, the EasyReaderApp facilitates dyslexia friendly fonts, increased size of font, highlighting text etc. it is also possible to access audio recordings of books. It is planned that books from the Educational Publishers will be available on Bookshare.
If the student would benefit from having the book read aloud, an alternative solution is the use of a scanning pen/reading pen. There are two types of reading pen, the C Pen and the Exam Reader. The C Pen Reader reads text aloud or through headphones. It can also scan and store text and has a dictionary feature. The Exam Reader is a reading pen with only the scan and read facility. The Exam Reader has been accepted by the SEC as a reasonable accommodation in State exams in 2018. Both are available from Ed Tech in Ireland (www.edtech.ie/details.asp?id=16331&ptid=20151). Schools can request a 30 day free trial of the pens from Scanningpens www.scanningpens.co.uk.
The Irish Educational Publishers Association (IEPA) have a Special Needs Access Request Form (SNAR) for students who require access to digital versions of textbooks. This form must be submitted to IEPA members via the following email addresses:
- Edco – email@example.com
- Educate.ie – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fallons – email@example.com
- Folens – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forum – email@example.com
- Foras na Gaeilge – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gill Education – email@example.com
- Mentor – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Prim-Ed – email@example.com
- Veritas – firstname.lastname@example.org
This form lists the book titles and the format requested, for example, eBook or PDF. It needs to be signed by the school principal and parent/guardian. Some publishers also send an educational agreement to be signed.
· If contacted by teacher or parent, CJ Fallon will create and assign an eBook account free of charge for textbooks used in the classroom. If they feel it is being abused, they can revoke the access. The books are same as the printed version.
· The full range of books is accessible, so it is possible to buy revision eBooks.
· They are working on integration with the iPad assistive technology. Access presently is as follows:
On iPad, go to Setting >General>Accessibility>Speech> Turn on Speak Selection. Next open a title in your CJFallonReader app, go to a page you want to read, next click the settings icon on the top right of screen and click on ‘Text Only’, select the text you want read aloud and from the menu provided click speak.
Edco offers students a free eBook with their printed textbooks. It comes with a bank of free digital resources allows students to access their e-book both at school or at home. Students will be able to access the free e-book by logging onto www.edcolearning.ie/code and entering the unique activation code on the inside front cover of the relevant textbook. For older copies of books, or for books that do not include the codes, Edco will ask for SNAR form to be completed and returned.
Books can be accessed through the Edco Learning app which is available to download free of charge download from the App Store for iPad, Google Playstore for Android and Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows 10. Users who want to access the books on a different operating system can do so through the Edco Learning web app which is available at www.edcolearning.ie. Both the Edco Learning iPad app and the Edco Learning Web App include text-to-speech functionality within the platform itself, a first for any Irish educational publisher’s platform.
Free eBooks are supplied with the printed version of their books but these do not read the text aloud.
Educate.ie does provide PDF versions of textbooks via download for the benefit of pupils with reading difficulties. The format of the PDF is a full text copy of the book, in the same layout as printed book. Due to copyright, these files are solely for use by the pupil for whom they are authorised. The pupil should have an original printed copy of the book being used in this way.
There is an application form (SNAR) to be completed, which can be returned to Educate.ie via email. There is no additional charge for this service.
Where available, Folens provides special PDF versions of books that are specially prepared to suit individual student requirements. These PDFs can be used with many devices such as iPads, Windows devices and Android devices. Please note that if the student is under 16, Folens require a parent / guardian or teacher to submit a request (SNAR) on their behalf to Folens Customer Support at this email address: email@example.com. Folens send an email from SendThisFile.com to the email address specified which also includes instructions on how to download the PDFs direct from the email to their device.
Gill ask that a “Gill Education Agreement and SNAR Form” be filled up and signed. They will then make the PDF versions or eBook versions of their textbooks available.
PROCESS FOR REQUESTING A PDF
If a student is using read-aloud software or other assistive technologies, a PDF copy is provided free of charge. PDFs are compatible with most read-aloud software including ReadWriteGold, Dragon Naturally Speaking and Claroread. A link to the PDF files for the books requested will be emailed or the PDF’s will be will be posted out. To arrange a free PDF, please complete and sign the “Gill Education Agreement and SNAR Form” and send the completed forms to Anne Sophie Blytmann by email or by post:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post: Anne Sophie Blytmann, Production Department, Gill Education, Hume Avenue, Park West, D12 YV96
PROCESS FOR REQUESTING AN EBOOK
Our eBooks are compatible with PC, Android and iOS devices. Please note these are not read-aloud and cannot be used with read-aloud software (unlike the PDF version).
To arrange a free eBook, please complete and sign the “Gill Education Agreement and SNAR Form” and send the completed forms to the Digital Support Team at email@example.com. Instructions on how to access your eBook will be emailed to you.
There is an application form (SNAR) to be completed, which can be returned to Mentor Books.ie (Educate.ie via email). There is no additional charge for this service.
At present the eBooks cannot be read aloud on iPad/Tablet unless the student has installed such software themselves. To access reading aloud, Mentor will provide a pdf and, if the student has software on their laptop, it can be read back.