If you’ve had the chance to use Bluford audiobooks, or Read & Write for Google, you’ve probably seen how powerful text-to-speech Assistive Technology can be –especially for students with decoding disabilities or ADHD. A variation of this technology – audiobooks from Audible – can be used to help students access the whole-class text you’re likely to teach as part of any literacy class.
This hypothetical whole-class text is on grade-level, literary and long. This presents a huge challenge to your students with disabilities who are reading several years below grade-level. What can you do to ensure that these kids can access the text and read it at home? Matt and I were recently faced with this exact problem. We bought our whole-class text as an audiobook from Audible and pushed it out to dozens of phones, tablets and computers. FOR $10.
Here is the key secret about Audible: you can sign on and listen to books from an unlimited number of devices. For example, my class’ shared text for the current unit is a book named Lyddie. I was able to purchase the Audible version of Lyddie for roughly 10 dollars. Then, I instructed students to download Audible, and I allowed them to log into my account on their cell phones and tablets. Then, with access to Wi-Fi and just a few clicks, students were able to listen to the text for free.
Of course, all of your students probably won’t own cell phones or tablets that they can use in class. In my class of 7th graders, about half of my students regularly bring a phone or tablet to school with them, so not every student who needs text-to-speech support can get it through their own device. Fortunately, for these kids, you can stream Audible books from a computer as well.
When I started letting kids log into my account to read books, I was nervous that they would accidentally buy books that I’d get stuck paying for. However, Audible has a great return policy. If a book is accidentally bought, you can return it no-questions-asked. In other words, there’s no risk to letting kids try it out.
In subsequent posts I’ll explain how to:
- choose the best Audible membership plan to use
- create reading ladders through your Audible membership
- find cheap, but effective hardware to run Audible
Nevertheless, technology can always be a bit tricky. Feel free to send me an email at Rob@GrowingReadersDC.com or leave a comment if you need some further tips.