Have you ever heard about Read&Write Gold? It seems to be a well-kept secret but it shouldn’t be! Read&Write supports you whilst you study, making tasks such as reading, notetaking, and essay writing easier. Want to know more….?
So let’s unfold the mystery that is Read&Write Gold. Read&Write Gold is a floating toolbar, which you can access it from any University owned computer, and it simply sits alongside your documents as you work.
Here’s a quick overview of my top five functions!
Text to Speech
Have you tried having text read back to you rather than reading on screen? Read&Write allows you to sit back and listen to digital text, using the simple controls to play, stop and rewind. You can read text off the web, in Word and pdf files. You can even use the scan feature, or as a quick fix the screenshot reader, to convert image-based text to a more accessible format and have that read back.
One of my favourite things about Read&Write Gold is how adaptable it is to individual preferences. You can change how the text is read back to you (such as a word, sentence or paragraph at a time) the colour of the highlights, how much text is read back and even the voice! If you have been put off before by synthesised speech, try one of the new voices available in the settings.
You can also use it to proofread your work, checking for any mistakes as you hear the text read back to you. You can even have each word read back as you type to spot immediate errors.
Check-it is a fully comprehensive spelling and grammar check, looking through your work and providing support on any errors you may have made. What I like about Check-it, is that it tells you where you have made a mistake and shows you how to fix it, helping you improve your own comprehension and understanding.
It is fully integrated with the other Read&Write Gold functions, so you can use the dictionaries to look up suggestions and even have the suggestions read back too. Use the settings tools to add extra vocabulary lists, for example, ‘medical’, to increase the accuracy of its suggested corrections.
Do you prefer to talk than type? Read&Write Gold’s newest function ‘Talk&Type’ lets you dictate your work. You can borrow headphones with built-in microphones from the Library Helpdesk and give it a try. Not only does it offer an alternative to physically typing, but it can also reduce any stress connected with spelling.
When you first start, complete the speech recognition and microphone training in the settings of the Read&Write toolbar. This allows the software to learn your voice and tone which will improve accuracy. Then speak away!
A very close contender for my favourite function, screen masking allows you to personalise your screen to suit how you prefer to work.
The tint whole screen or change page colour options allow you to transform your screen to a background colour of your choice. Using a screen filter can help reduce visual stress, which when you are studying at computers for long periods is very useful. If you have a specific RBG number which works best for you, you can manually add this in.
If you find you get distracted by other things on your screen when reading or typing, try the reading ruler option on ‘tint whole screen.’ You can increase the opacity of the background colour blocking out background distractions and focus purely on the reading ruler, which moves with your cursor.
Other options such as underline typing line or cursors can help draw your attention to set areas on the page. Again this can be fully personalised to colour, height and opacity. Give it a try!
Just as you would use coloured highlighters on paper, you can use Read&Write to highlight text in your documents and on the internet. Simply select the text and choose one of the four colour highlights. Set a separate colour for different themes or subjects and highlight across different documents and web pages. Then here comes the magic… Choose which colours you wish to collect and Read&Write produces a separate Word document with all your selected highlights, along with a bibliography so you can keep track of where the text originated.
How to learn more…
There is much more to this nifty study tool than the 5 functions above, so why not download it and have a go? You can download it onto any university-owned computer either by the software centre on the machine or via IT Services web pages.
My top tip is to watch the individual video tours for the functions which show you exactly how each function works. Remember to check out the quick reference cards and the beginners guide for further support!