TextHelp Read & Write Gold v10 - With full support for reading and writing wherever needed
Read Write Gold v10
TextHelp's latest version of Read & Write Gold pretty much sets the bar for others to follow.
If you need support for your reading and writing and wish to use your computer to the fullest, the Read & Write Gold (R&W) provides a fairly comprehensive tool to support you. If your at an early stage in your literacy carer, then this may be a bit of a sledge hammer to crack a nut, however, if you wish to write essays, research the Internet but don't have the ability to do so unaided, then this could well be a solution for you.
R&W uses a toolbar interface that allows you to access various tools that will work within pretty much any program you wish to either read from or write to.
There is a host of tools available such as:
- Spell Checker
- Word prediction
- Picture dictionary
- Homophone checker
- Verb checker
- Speech controls
- Screenshot reader
- Speech maker
- Scan to speech
- Fact folder
- Fact mapper
What a list! I'll try and expand a bit on each one.
OK, you probably know that spell checkers are readily available in most word processors, however R&W takes your 'run of the mill' spell checker and beefs it up.
Just as a normal, the spell checker will scan your document (or selection) for spelling errors and will offer suggested alternatives. However, with R&W, each suggestion is accompanied by a description of the word. What happens if you struggle to read the description? R&W will lean on it's Text To Speech synthesized screen reader to read the description out for you.
Word prediction works anywhere where you need to type. When you launch word prediction, a window appears (usually next to where you are typing) and offers up to 12 words that are drawn from the dictionary size you set. The word selection is driven from the letters that you type, for example, typing 'T' will bring up words that begin with the letter T. Since there are many words that begin with T, you will usually need to type in the next letter to get a more likely prediction. So after typing 'Te', such words as 'Television', 'Telephone' and 'Tell' will be suggested. To aid you, words that you have historically used will be brought towards the top. So if you write 'television' a lot, then this is likely to be at the top of the list.
Since R&W is designed to help those with limited reading skills, the screen reader can also be used, either to read the word when you hover your cursor over the word, or will read each word in the list out in turn. To select the required word, you can either click on the word or press the corresponding function key that is set next to each word.
The dictionary can be called up after selecting any word (this also works for words on web pages). A small window will appear on screen with at least 1 meaning of the word, along with an example of how it can be used in a sentence. Again, the screen reader is on hand to read out the dictionary description of the word.
After selecting a word and selecting the Picture dictionary tool, R&W will try and find an associated symbol and/or picture for the word.
Homophone checker (Sounds like)
Homophones are words that sound the same or similar, but have different meanings such as 'for', 'fore' and 'four'. When you select this tool, R&W will check the page (not available for web pages) and highlight each one. Then a small window will allow you to toggle through each homophone, giving it a brief dictionary meaning as well as suggestions for alternative words if you hadn't written the correct word.
The Verb checker works on its own, by asking you to type in a verb and will then offer you examples on how to use it within different tenses, such as go, going, gone.
Here you can set how the screen reader works. with such options as turning it on or off, the rate of speech, what at will speak (by word, sentence or paragraph), turn on text highlighting as words are spoken, how it pronounces words and much more. I must say, they have really gone to town on the amount of options you can control.
Screen shot reader
This is quite neat, though possibly rarely of use. Screen readers work by reading text where a computer can actually recognise the text as text. Basically, this is all text you see on screen apart from a picture that contains text, such as a photo of a sign that reads 'No parking' or 'don't feed the alligators'. The computer will not normally recognise the writing, it just sees the picture as lots of different coloured pixels.
Enter OCR. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a term used for software to look at a picture and scan it for shapes that resemble letter shapes and will then convert these shapes into letters that are recognised by the computer. This then allows the screen reader to read the text out.
By selecting Screenshot Reader, you have the ability to use your mouse to drag over an area of the screen, usually a picture as previously mentioned, R&W will then run the selected area through it's own OCR software and either transfer any found text to MS Word or within its own tempory reader to read out.
As I mentioned, this may have limited appeal, though it does make text within pictures, photos etc. to be readable by R&W.
Speech maker allows you to select text and then have that text converted into an mp3 (audio) file. An example application of this function may be to save a page of text so that you can play it back at a later date on a device that doesn't have R&W installed on it, such as an iPod or other mp3 player. You could also use it in a presentation where reading from a script is difficult or impossible.
Scan to Speech (simply called scan)
This is OCR being used in its traditional sense. Used in conjunction with a scanner, place a document into your scanner and select the Scan option on R&W's toolbar. The scanned text will be placed into either a Word, pdf or html document. The text can then be used as part of written word e.g. an essay, or be used to be selected and read out by the screen reader. Particularly handy for reading letters sent to you in the post.
The Fact Folder is used to store sources of information from websites. It is used to build up a bibliography. For example, if you were writing an essay on volcanoes, you may use information from 5 websites. On each web page, just clicking on the Fact Folder will add the details (which are also editable) to a list that can then be used to add to the end of your essay as a bibliography (sources of information list).
Used in conjunction with your web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox etc.) to help you build a graphical representation of written work. This is commonly known as 'Mind Mapping'. I must say that I found this far less effective that mind mapping software that you can purchase.
As you may see, there is a lot to R&W Gold, many tools do lend themselves to those with high cognitive abilities, but struggle with reading and writing, such as many people with dyslexia.
With its word prediction capabilities, people with reduced typing speeds (say 1 key press every 5 seconds) could also benefit as a way of speeding up their typing, though if you have reasonably good clarity of speech, you may wish to look at speech recognition software.
R&W has more settings and options than you can shake the proverbial stick at. For example, the word prediction options include customising the lexicon (the word list that R&W uses to predict from) by selecting core vocabulary, scientific words, adult words and more, or importing words from a file. What size fonts the predicted words display as, what colour and what background colour the prediction window displays in.
When it comes to settings, R&W has bucket-loads. Thankfully, each tool has a very good video tutorial that is found under the options menu next to most of the tools.
There is also a free 30 day trial version that can be downloaded from TextHelp's website.
- Free 30 day trail version available to download. Allowing you to try before you buy
- Many, many tools available to help you with reading and writing
- Highly customisable
- Very good video tutorials
- Screen reader runs with practically everything as well as within its own tools such as the dictionary and word prediction
- Pretty pricey
- Fact mapping is a bit lame