Read and Be Free

A look at libraries, literature, technology and staying sane in an insane world.

Software Selection November 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 5:18 PM

Software Selections and Needs Assessment for LS 589


Needs Assessment

Current Status of Audiobooks and Formats:


The library currently owns 40 audiobook titles on CD, 32 audiobook titles on cassette, and 3 titles on MP3 CD.  We also have 1 title in a Playaway format, but no device for playing this title to more than one student at a time.  The classroom teachers and students have access to free audiobook sites such as Project Gutenberg and LibriVox but the bulk of titles available are classics and other titles that are in the public domain.  This access is useful for only a small portion of audiobook requests.  The Special Education Department also has access to audiobook downloads via BookShare.  This software is not available to all students, only those receiving Special Education services as directed by their IEPs (Individualized Education Plans).  The Booksahre subscription is utilized by only 1 teacher as this time.  The Librarian has access to the subscription but it is not used in the library by general education students.

Current Status of AT Software:

The library has software and applications loaded onto the MLTI MacBooks and iMacs, but none of the software is directly applicable to providing remedial reading assistance or support, other than using the standard spell-check and thesaurus tools in MS Word.


Student Needs:

Of the students needing reading support via audiobook formats, almost all do not own cassette players at home, and if a title they need is only available from the High School Library on cassette, they are limited to listening during class time, study hall, or lunch time.   A good percentage of these students have their own MP3 devices and prefer to listen to audiobooks on mobile handheld devices rather than on CD or cassette, and would benefit from having the independence and freedom to listen at home and after school hours.


Students requiring contemporary and recently published audiobooks often go without, or are asked to wait while the library staff submits Inter Library Loan requests for audiobook titles from the public library.  The lending period for audiobooks is generally 7-10 days which is not always a sufficient lending time for classroom needs.  Students often follow along with print text while they listen, and this can take several weeks to accomplish, especially for many high school texts, including textbooks.


Software Selection

1st Priority:


Annual subscription to Downloadable Audiobooks via MaineInfoNet Overdrive Service

Price: $100 annual subscription for participating libraries; $300 start up fee


This subscription will provide students and teachers access to downloadable audio books, ebooks, and other digital resources via the Internet utilizing state-of-the-art digital copyright protection technologies, available 24/7, from a statewide collection of audiobooks.  Audiobooks can be downloaded in full or in segments, burned to a CD (where permitted by publisher) and or/transferred to hundreds of supported audio devices such as MP3 players, iPods, or Zune players.


Subscribing to this service will help students increase their access and participation with a variety of literary texts, will help boost their English Language scores, and will encourage students to participate in verbal discussions involving intricate and challenging literary novels in class and in library book discussion groups.


2nd Priority:

Subscription to Recorded Books on CD and MP3 CD.  Titles can be listened to on a CD players, laptops, the Califone Multimedia Player (see hardware write-up), and can be downloaded to iPods and other MP3 players.  Price: TBD based on number of titles requested



Teachers have requested individual titles to add to the library’s audiobook collection that would meet the needs of individual students to increase reading comprehension and accessibility to core reading literature and free-reading literature.  These titles could also be used by general education students in classrooms and would be available for students to check out through the library.  Comparably, to a subscription to MaineInfoNet Overdrive, it will undoubtedly be more cost effective to go with a subscription service for audio rather than purchasing individual titles on CD or MP3 CD from Recorded Books, but for core reading titles, it would be helpful to have discs to circulate.


3rd Priority:

Victor Reader Soft DAISY playback software

Priced from $99.00-$130.00



Software that supports DAISY (Digital Accessibly Information Systems) sometimes comes with a particular hardware device, but occasionally there are add-ons that are more specific to certain functions or users.  The Victor Reader Soft DAISY playback software is a computer application for reading digital audio books.  It “combines the audio and text mode that let you read the text on screen synchronized with audio and is fully accessible to print disabled persons” (


The software allows users to browse through parts of a text such as table of contents and index, book mark sections, skip to a page, and would help students follow along with classroom textbooks and classroom literature titles.  Teachers looking for ways to make book discussion inclusive for all students, even those with print/reading disabilities, one of the challenges has been being able to include students who have trouble keeping up with texts read aloud, or students who have trouble finding their notes from a chapter, etc.  This software would allow students

This software is also customizable for multiple users making an ideal choice for classrooms where more than one student may share the same audio listening device.


4th Priority:

Read & Write GOLD for Mac

Price:  $645.00


This software is designed to provide literacy support for students in all grades who need support in reading and writing.  The purpose of providing this software is that students at the high school level are striving for greater reading and writing independence.


This software will help to improve reading fluency and comprehension; will encourage independence and inclusion in the classroom, and supports RTI (Response to Intervention) strategies (currently mandated by the State of Maine by 2010).



Homophone Support

Word Prediction


Safari Reader

DAISY Reader


Speech Maker

Fact Finder

Study Skills Tool


Text Transfer

Custom natural sounding male/female voices

Screen masking to help students focus on the task at hand

Take Home settings for users to copy their Read Write settings to a USB drive and copy             these settings on another computer

Scan text from a digital camera (useful for chemistry and biology labs, math texts and             equations, word problems, examples on the whiteboard, etc.)

Screenshot reader to read precise areas of a website


Priority 5/Comparison:

Inspiration 8 Software

Price:  Five-license site with free Inspiration 9 upgrade: $310.00

Single license with upgrade: $69.00


Justification: This software would also be a useful tool for classroom use for those students who are visual learners and need to see instructions and content mapped out in diagram form with symbols, maps, and webs.  It would be useful across a number of curriculum areas and would give students an option for mapping concepts, organizing and outlining content for language arts classes and research projects.  It is designed for grades 6 and up.  Although this would be a useful tool, the Read Write Gold software offers a greater number of tools and resources for students with reading disabilities because it helps with intensive reading comprehension and fluency of texts while Inspiration is more of an organizational and visual mapping tool which is important, but not high on the priority list at this time.




(2009).  Downloadable Audio Project: Maine InfoNet.  Retrieved from


The Victor Reader Stream: More than an iPod for the Blind.  Retrieved from


HumanWare USA.  Retrieved from


EnableMart.  Retrieved from


South Carolina Assistive Technology Program.  Retrieved from
















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