Accessible Instruction for Online Assignments and Courses

Written By Karen Narvol

Students with reading challenges often have difficulty navigating online course web pages. The content may not be structured well, the page layout may be complex with distracting images and animations, and the navigational elements may be appear in random order from page to page. Ideally, online course developers will incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles to make online content accessible and the learning environment usable for all students. But this does not always happen.

Even when online courses are designed well, some students will need tools and strategies to successfully access course content on learning management systems, such as Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas. Kurzweil 3000 and kurzweil 3000+firefly can help students who require more options for accessing and reading online course syllabi, discussion forums, required readings, assignments, tests, email, and feedback. These tools include Read the Web, the Kurzweil Taskbar, the Kurzweil Image Reader within kurzweil 3000, and Virtual Printer.

1. Read the Web with Kurzweil 3000

With Read the Web, students can read Web sites in either Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). The Read the Web command is found on the kurzweil 3000 Main toolbar. Before using Read the Web, the user should select the browser through the Tools, Options, Reading options menu.

To hear websites read aloud, click the Read button on the kurzweil 3000 Web toolbar. To stop reading, click the Pause button. The user can select the Read Mode, Reading Unit, and Words Per Minute. Users can choose to move forward and backward by the current unit. A dictionary tool is also available on the Read the Web toolbar.

2. Kurzweil 3000 Taskbar

The kurzweil 3000 Taskbar offers a number of features to access content in other applications, including online course content. It provides access to Read, Dictionary Look Up, Check Spelling, and Image Reader functions. The student can drag and drop text onto the text box, look up word, and spell check icons. The text will be displayed in a reading pane. kurzweil 3000 begins to read the content immediately.

Students can use the Image Reader icon on the kurzweil 3000 Taskbar (and also on the Main menu bar’s Read menu) to gain access to any digital text located in otherwise inaccessible file formats, such as Flash or locked PDFs. Click the Image Reader icon and use the crosshairs to select an area of text. The text is recognized and read using optical character recognition (OCR) and text-to-speech.

3. KESI Virtual Printer

The KESI Virtual Printer is a print driver. Instead of printing a document, it creates a kurzweil 3000 image file directly from another application. It is very useful for reading documents created in other software programs. The KESI Virtual Printer option is available in the application’s Print Setup. When the user selects “KESI Virtual Printer” and then clicks “Print,” kurzweil 3000 launches and opens the file as an image document.


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