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More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.

A while back I noticed my databases were changing.  Until recently, I ignored what the changes meant for my learners.  These features are too good to be ignored.

audio More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.

A few of my favorite Gale products (Opposing Viewpoints, for instance) offer a new text-to-speech feature.  An audio player dashboard

readspeaker dashboard1 More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.

appears above documents, enabling researchers to to listen to all or part of a document read aloud by a computer-generated voice.  Documents may also be downloaded as MP3 files. Gale’s press release noted that the feature would be available in Student Resource Centers, Discover, Junior Reference Collection, Kids Infobits, Opposing Viewpoints Reference Center, and Science Resource Center.

Why does this matter? 

Learners have different needs. 

  • We have may different preferences for processing text.  Some of us like the enhancement that audio adds to our reading.  Adding audio to the print reading experience is likely to improve comprehension. Some of us simply prefer listening to print reading.  Some of us (multitaskers) like to do other things while we read.  Some of us prefer the convenience of processing content on our favorite portable devices.
  • Students with visual impairments will have far more equitable access to content and more direct access than with external support products.
  • Some of our students struggle with decoding text.  Some have disabilities, like dyslexia, that require aditional support or accomodation for them to comprehend required materials.  Some of our students are English language learners as well as social studies or science or literature learners.

This database feature is well worth promoting among regular, special education teachers, ELL teachers, and parents.  (I wonder if special education funding might be available to support any of these purchases?)

Students without need for accomodation are likely to enjoy the option as well.  At our desk we are getting more requests for headsets to listen to articles.

Translation services are another feature that recently snuck into my databases. 

Here’s how they look in  eLibrary and Gale’s Literature Resource Center.

elibrarylanguage More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.    litlanguage More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.

With a growing number of languages spoken in the homes of so many of our students, this feature is another worth celebrating and promoting in school and in the larger community.

share save 171 16 More accessible databases: listen while you work and translate too.
Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Buffy Hamilton says:

    Our 10th graders have been taking advantage of this feature in Opposing Viewpoints…several students actually made it a point to tell me how much they like it!

  2. Bradley - M.S. Ed. in Instructional Tech says:

    I am a masters student in Instructional Technology at Northern IL University. Accessibility is an important topic for me since I used to be a Special Education teacher. First, I would like to comment that these are some great resources you provided! Unfortunately, accessibility is not widely discussed among my current and past courses.

    Second, I wanted to ask you and your audience the following questions in regard to the topic of Accessibility in School Libraries:

    1. In your experience(s), how frequently is accessibility considered in terms of physical access to the library? Are your doors, security systems, and isles large enough for patrons in wheel chairs? How about access to information –

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