Computer Application Resources

Text-to-Audio Applications:

Kurzweil 3000 - Allows scanning of documents to be read back to you.  Cost ranges between $400-1300, depending upon features.  This application is available for you to use in the Assistive Technology Lab, the main campus library and at the Shasta College Tehama campus.

Free Alternatives:

  • Balabolka - Reads text from various formats by converting them into .txt format. There are no pictures, highlighting or note features like Blio, but the program does allow you to save text to mp3 and is portable so you can run it from a flash drive.  You can download either the portable version or the desktop version at the following link: Balabolka
       To view the Assistive Technology Lab's brochure on how to make the most of using Balabolka - click --> Balabolka Brochure
       
     
  • Blio - Maintains the look of the text being read.  Reads .xps and epub formatted files.  XPS formatted files can be created on any computer by printing to Microsoft XPS Writer instead of your printer.  This program does not have a portable version that can run from your flash drive and cannot create mp3 files.  You can download the desktop version at the following link: Blio Desktop.

Portable Device Alternatives (not free but cheap):

  • Blio - Can be used on Android tablets and phones, iPad's, iPod Touch or iPhone. Cost is about $3.00.  Link to site: Blio.
  • Moon+ Reader Pro - Easy to use alternative to Blio for Android tablets. Cost is about $5.00. Link to site: Moon+ Reader Pro.
  • Prizmo - Allows you to take pictures, convert them to text and have the text read back to you. Useful for reading small single page documents from an iPhone or iPod Touch with camera. Cost is about $10.00. Link to site: Prizmo.

Scan and Save from Home:

  1. Scan with your scanner at home.
  2. Save the scanned image and make note where you saved it.
  3. Go to the following website: SensusAccess.

Steps to follow on the SensusAccess website:

  1. Click the Browse button.
  2. Navigate and Select the file that you saved in step 2 above.
  3. Click the Open button.
  4. Click the Upload button.
  5. Click the Next button to go to Step 2 - Select output format.
  6. Click the radio button in front of e-Book if you are using Blio to read to you OR Click the radio button in front of Document conversion if you are having Balabolka read to you.
  7. Click the Next button to proceed to Step 3 - Specify...
  8. If you are using Blio leave the format as ePub, if you are using a Kindle Reading device, click the drop-down arrow and select Mobi instead of ePub.  OR If you are using Balabolka click the drop-down arrow to the right of the Target format dialog box and click on the option txt - Windows Text.
  9. Click the Next button to proceed to Step 4 - Enter email address and submit request.
  10. Type your email address in the text box.
  11. Click the Submit button.
  12. The Receipt page should come up after a short delay.  Now you wait a short time to get an email with the file attached that can be read by either Blio or Balabolka.

That's all there is to it, no expensive programs to buy.  All you need is Blio and/or Balabolka and internet access so that you can use the website: SensusAccess. 

Do you have questions or need assistance in Converting your files to an alternate format?  Please drop by the Assistive Technology Lab and we can give you a sheet that provides more in-depth step-by-step instructions as well as assist by walking through the process with you.  Once you've done it a few times, you will be able to scan any material from home and convert it so that it can be read to you.

 

Speech Recognition:

Dragon NaturallySpeaking - Cost is about $90.00.  This application is available to use on our computers in the DSPS Assistive Technology Lab.

 

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Windows 7 Speech Recognition - Cost is Free if you already have Windows 7 on your computer.  Has less accuracy than Dragon NaturallySpeaking when dictating text into a word processor.  It is not a good alternative if you are using speech recognition for more than dictating text into a word processor (like navigating your computer without the use of the mouse).

Helpful Keyboarding Applications:

One-Handed Keyboard - The demo version is no cost and works quite well. There is no expiration on using the demo version. This program is especially useful for those who already know how to touch type and doesn't require any special equipment as it uses the keyboard already on your computer.  I was able to start typing on my keyboard with one hand after only about 5 minutes :) There are both a Mac and Windows version.  The upgraded version of the software costs $129.99 and allows you to customize the dictionary and if you type fast enough the program will make you wait before you can type more so depending on how proficient you become and how much you will be using the program, it might be worth the price to upgrade.  Here is the link to download the software One-Handed Keyboard 

 

LiveScribe Echo Smart Pen
This pen is a very helpful tool but it does have a cost of around $120.00 depending on memory capacity.   

 

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This page will be updated regularly with new, useful applications that are low cost or free and serve to meet a variety of needs.   

 If you have used an application that is not listed here, that has helped you, we'd love to hear about it so we can share it here.   

 Please send an email to ATL@shastacollege.edu.or you can give us a call at 530-242-7833.