Exam Reading Software
Contempalted putting this in the Software section but it might not be software specific so...
Child A is allowed to use a laptop in exams. Child A is allowed to have his exam paper read to Child A. Child A is also allowed to use a more advanced typing package such as Word with it's spell checking facilities. Exam Centre A doesn't receive any usefull electronic copy of the exam paper only the normal printed one.
Now I think that our Learing support department are trying to get away from the need for human readers so have asked us to look at it. Reading software is not too tricky, Windows iteslf will do that. However exam paper only arrives a short time before the exam and whilst we can scan it into PDF fairly quickly the resulting file cannot be read by Adobe/Windows. I would guess because the photocopier has scanned it as a JPG then converted to PDF. Adobe also can't save the PDF as text.
So.. any suggestions? Anyone else come accross this issue?
My suggestion? Tell the learning support department they will have to keep reading it for now.
The best-case scenario here is that you get a perfect OCR of the exam paper that is optimised for screen-readers, and have it read by a high-quality TTS engine. Even then, it will not be as good as having a real person reading it, and I suspect that the quality of the reader will make a difference to the pupil's performance.
Getting that perfect OCR will also require expensive software if the exam board won't provide it - there is plenty of mediocre OCR software out there, but you will need a good one and they don't come cheap. When you cost it out you will probably end up spending more on the software than it costs to pay a person.
tl;dr: we're not quite there yet in terms of technology.
I have a feeling the exam board would have issue with this idea too. It often isn't just the reading but the interpretation of certain words. I think it is something like general words can be explained but subject specific words can not.
OK update, a little bit of messing around and what we have come up with:
Scanning in as PDF through the MFD photocopiers for speed. Then using Acrobat Pro to OCR the PDF. We then use a third party software to read the text. Adobe Read Aloud doesn't do a good job of wokting out where all the text is (things like the "(25 marks)" confise it, and has some words missing from it's database. The voice is also a bit naff. But is does do a good job of converting it to text.
Our exams officer has also just found out that she should be able to get PDF's from some of the exam boards on exam day. AQA said no but the rest of the boards seemed positive. This seems to be an odd requirement for one pupil or is it a sign of the future?