1998 Conference Proceedings

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Electronic Books and Text Materials for Persons with Disabilities

Ken Funk
Special Education Technologist
San Juan Unified School District
Special Education Department
5330 A Gibbons Drive
Carmichael, CA. 95608
Voice: (916) 482-0916
FAX: (916) 971-7532
Internet: kfunk@sanjuan.edu

Anne Pontillo
Speech and Language Specialist
San Juan Unified School District Ralph Richardson Center
4848 Cottage Way
Carmichael, CA. 95608
Voice:(916) 971-7411
FAX: (916) 971-7737
Internet: apontillo@sanjuan.edu


Electronic or computerized books maybe useful to a number of students, such as the physically challenged, vision impaired, learning handicapped and dyslexic. There are several methods for producing such a book and we will discuss them and show samples of them for you.


The equipment needed are as follows: A Power Macintosh or Pentium clone computer with at least 32 MB of RAM and a flat-bed scanner and software. I also recommend using a CD Burner to put these books on CD ROM disks for easy transportability since some of them will become large files and will not fit onto floppy disks. The Zip Drive or other removable media may also be used.

The software I recommend is OmniPage Pro in its current release, as it has proven to be the most accurate for scanned text. These text files are then used to create some of the books. These text files can be used in Ultimate Reader, Ultimate KidBooks, and E-text formatted books. The graphics scanning program that comes with most scanners can be used for making picture books.

The IntelliTools software ?Intellipics? is also a great way to build a book for young children; pictures and either digitized speech or computer speech for the story-line for each picture can be incorporated into the finished product with this software.

Universal access is a key point. Ultimate Kidbooks and Intellipics can both be accessed with a switch because access is built into them. Intellikeys may also be used for access of either book as well. Discover Ke:nx, Discover Screen, and Discover Board by Don Johnston may also be used for access issues as well.


By far the easiest method would be to scan the text materials from books to computer form or raw text. OmniPage creates a text file that may be saved in various formats making it importable to these ?book? formats. I put them into a word processor format, such as Corel WordPerfect for the Macintosh. This word processing program can be utilized to read the text, using a feature incorporated in the program itself. While Corel WordPerfect for the Macintosh and some other word processing programs have the ability to read text aloud, it will not hi-light the words as it reads.

A screen reader such as OutSPOKEN for the Macintosh can also be used to provide a reading text form for the books scanned. It makes the computer fully accessible to the vision impaired, allowing the use of numeric keypad instead of a mouse.

This same scanned text can be used in Ultimate Reader and Ultimate Kidbooks to create a text file or book that can be read by the either program. In Ultimate Kidbooks, a ?player? that is free to anyone can be used to read or ?play? the books after they have been made with Ultimate Kidbooks program. This program can allow for illustrations on pages to make the books interesting; scrolling text frames can be used as well.

Ultimate Reader can read an entire file on its own and scroll through it as it is read, hi-lighting each spoken word for easy following along of the text by the reader. This program, however, must be licensed for each machine that it is to be used on, as it does NOT use a player, but needs the actual program to function. This program allows the use of keyboard equivalents to access some of its functions, but is not intended for the blind user; it may, however, be used by a low vision student or with assistance for a blind reader.

Ultimate Kidbooks has the feature of switch access built into it and therefore may be used by switch users and those who can use the mouse and/or keyboard. These books may be created by a ?building? or site license and then distributed with Ultimate Kidbooks Player freely to anyone. This allows the book to be played but it can not be changed without the program, Ultimate Kidbooks. This allows for a more cost-effective way to distribute the books to the various populations served.

Intellipics is a very nice software program that allows creation of a several kinds of books. Story books can be produced that just show the picture and tell the story, or they can be made with some simple animation and actions as well. For this demonstration I will show you a 'reading' book that is an illustrated book for young children. The first one is 'Alfred'.

'Alfred' is a short picture book with a small amount of text for each page. This book was simply scanned as a graphic then each picture was put into the Intellipics program in order of the pages. Then the text for each page was digitally recorded. This book may be accessed with a single switch, the Intellikeys keyboard with a matching keyboard overlay, with Ke:nx, or other access methods. The program Intellipics makes it easy to create these books and activities for children.

Another source of materials for electronic books is E-text. (Electronic text) is available on a number of sites on the Internet. There will be list of some of these at the end of this article. Gutenberg is among the largest. These may be down-loaded and then you may import them into other programs. Ultimate Reader is one of my favorites, and if you have a screen reader for either Mac or PC, this will make them into a talking book as well. These texts are just ASCII text that can be use in ANY computer, even an e-Mate or AlphaSmart Pro 2000 (with file size limitations). Some of the books are among the classics, such as Alice in Wonderland, and even Les Miserables!

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic also can provide many E-text materials on disk for both PC and Macintosh that may be used as electronic books. They have their own program for a dedicated set of materials newly developed in 1997 called the AudioPlus system, using digitally recorded human speech and search capabilities with text via a CD-ROM, as well as the usual e-text computer disk files of books, such as Book Manager for the PC. This program allows for reading of the text, and making notes in the margins.

With the new Ultimate Reader 2.0 you can also read the e-text books while on the web site, itself. This part of the Ultimate Reader is a new feature of version 2.0 and allows the user to read web sites that have text and view graphics or leave them out. This is somewhat like a screen reader for the Internet.

Any of these text files can be put into any program such as a word processor and saved as a file to be read at another time, or they may be put into the proper file format and used in the Duxbury Braille translator for translation into Braille for a blind person to read, either in embossed form or with a dynamic Braille Display. However, a qualified braillist will have to edit the files, as certain common mistakes occur through translation because of the many rules braille requires.


There are a number of people who can benefit from these texts and electronic books: dyslexic, vision impaired, physically challenged, and others.

References/Programs: Intellitools, Inc.
55 Leveroni Court
Suite 9
Novato, CA. 94949

Universal Learning Technology
39 Cross Street
Peabody, Massachusetts 01960

Don Johnston, Inc.
1000 N. Rand Rd.
Bldg. 115, P. O.Box 639
Wauconda, IL 60084-0639

ALVA Access Group, Inc. (OutSPOKEN)
5801 Christie Ave.
Suite 475
Emeryville, CA. 94608
(510) 923-6280

Recording For The Blind & Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08540

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