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Read Aloud: The Proofreading Tool

Article in Word Format

For eleven years I have, on and off, used two programs to proofread my work aloud, which over time have been discontinued: Microsoft Reader and Reader Works. I have Cerebral Palsy and, as a result, visual-perceptual-motor impairment, and Dyslexia, which makes it extremely difficult to proofread my work or anybody else’s for that matter. With the advent and improvement of speech recognition, I make fewer mistakes; but they are extremely difficult for me to detect visually. I am an auditory learner.1 Even when I read the text out loud I still will not pick up mistakes because I read the sentences as they should be not as they are, which makes computerized proofreading a necessity for anyone with such learning disabilities.

From 2003-2012, I used Microsoft Reader as a proofreading tool.2 It was a long-involved process, but at the time, I was in the middle of my master’s program and needed all the help I could get. The process involved converting the Word file into a Microsoft Reader file, which added time to whatever paper I was working on, but it did work. Microsoft Reader read the file to me aloud and I heard the mistakes in the writing and corrected them. By 2008, Microsoft introduced Word 2007, and it was no longer possible to convert the document I was working on into a Microsoft Reader file from within Microsoft Word. So, I had to add another program to the process, Reader Works.3 Until it was discontinued in 2011, I used it to convert Word documents into Microsoft Reader files. Then, in the middle of upgrading to a solid state hard drive, I realized that I had not saved a copy of the Reader Works program. I went to the company’s website to download another copy and found that the program was no longer available.

There I was having just completed the upgrade and having no way to proofread my work. I had a website to maintain, lesson plans, and worksheets to create. I had a problem. I searched for a new conversion program without success. The only way to convert Word documents into Microsoft Reader files was to install an older version of Word just for conversion. It is never a good idea to have two versions of Microsoft Word on the same operating system. So, I used Microsoft Virtual PC to create a Windows XP environment to run Word XP to proofread my work.4 Maintaining a virtual Windows XP environment just to create Microsoft Reader files is a lot of work. Every time I purchased a new computer or reformatted a hard drive I had to rebuild the virtual PC. By August 2012, Microsoft decided to discontinue Microsoft Reader and release Windows 8. At that point, I purchased a Windows 8 machine and Hyper-V was not worth the trouble. So, I decided to work without a net for five and a half years.

Recently, I discovered that by installing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Microsoft Edge has the capability to read PDFs and webpages aloud. Additionally, I found that having Office 365 with Office Professional Plus which includes Word 2016 that Word has the capability to read documents aloud. Read Aloud is also a Microsoft store application. In Word, Read Aloud can be found on the Ribbon under the Review tab.It can also be placed on the Quick Access Toolbar. In Microsoft Edge, Read Aloud can be found under Settings and more. With the Read Aloud capability in Word and Edge, I have not found a use for the store application. By adding Read Aloud in Word and Edge, Microsoft has provided those with learning disabilities a powerful and timesaving proofreading tool.

Notes

1 Donald Clark, Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles (VAK), Big Dog and Little Dog's Performance Juxtaposition, last modified July 12, 2011, http://bit.ly/DonaldClark01. 2John Keegan, Proofreading and Learning Disability: Microsoft Reader as a Proofreading Tool, jgkeegan.com, accessed February 10, 2018, http://jgkeegan.com/pad/pad.htm. 3 Keegan, Microsoft Reader as a Proofreading Tool: Windows Vista Update, jgkeegan.com accessed February 10, 2018, http://jgkeegan.com/pad/winvista.htm; See also Keegan, Add-in: Read in Microsoft Reader and MS Word 2007, Opinion (blog), May 19,2008, https://jgkeegan.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/add-in-read-in-microsoft-reader-and-ms-word-2007/. 4 Keegan, Microsoft Reader and Virtual PC: What do I do, Reader Works no longer exists?, jgkeegan.com accessed February 10, 2018, http://jgkeegan.com/pad/rvpc.htm.