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