Cirrus Hidden Gems: Accessibility, Inclusivity, and Fairness: Introducing ReadSpeaker!

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Welcome to the March Hidden Gems edition! Today, we spotlight inclusivity and accessibility within the Cirrus platform: ReadSpeaker’s integration of Text-To-Speech (TTS) technology. This integration is not just a tool making digital exam content more engaging, it allows your organisation to comply with legal requirements and ensure you’re levelling the playing field for all candidates.

What It Is

At its core, ReadSpeaker’s TTS technology is designed to convert text into natural-sounding audio. 

It also includes more accessibility options, such as:

Highlighting

A highlighting text tool enhances readability and navigation for users, especially those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or visual impairments. This tool allows users to highlight text on a screen, making it easier to follow along as they read or to locate specific information within a large body of text. Here’s how it generally works:

Visual Assistance: Highlighting text visually distinguishes the selected words or passages from the rest of the content, reducing visual stress and improving focus. This can be particularly beneficial in dense text passages or when reading for extended periods.

Navigation Aid: Highlighting can serve as a navigational aid, helping users to mark their place in a text or to return quickly to previously identified essential sections.

Document Reader

Beyond web pages, ReadSpeaker can also vocalise content in documents, including PDFs, Word documents, and eBooks, making it easier for users to access a wide range of information in audio format.

The Perks

The integration of TTS technology into assessments is more than a convenience; it’s a leap toward inclusive and effective exams. Here’s how:

Enhanced Accessibility and Inclusivity

By providing an audio version of text, TTS ensures that all learners have equal access to information regardless of their reading ability or language proficiency. This is especially crucial for participants with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and for non-native speakers facing language barriers. 

Compliance with legal requirements

Cirrus is committed to helping you comply with the law when it comes to accessibility:

Improved Comprehension and Retention

The option to listen to content, coupled with the ability to read along, supports bimodal learning, where auditory and visual cues are combined. This approach has been scientifically shown to enhance understanding, memory, and retention of information.

Levelling the Playing Field

TTS technology democratises the learning environment by offering auditory support during assessments. This not only helps to overcome handicaps and language barriers but also ensures compliance with accessibility legislation and demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity.

Broadening Impact

Beyond the classroom, TTS technology aids in integrating new employees, especially those who may face literacy or language challenges not immediately apparent. It also supports individuals with lower literacy levels or those in vocational training, making it a versatile tool across various contexts.

Support for Diverse Learning Needs

TTS technology caters to diverse learning styles and needs by offering an alternative way to engage with content. Whether learners prefer to read, listen, or do both simultaneously, TTS enhances the learning experience.

For more information, please visit our Knowledge Base.  

How it works in Cirrus

WebReader

When ReadSpeaker is enabled, candidates will see the ReadSpeaker button at the top left, next to the logo. By clicking the play button, ReadSpeaker begins to audibly read the text on the page. Candidates can also highlight specific text for ReadSpeaker to read. This feature is integrated across all question types, including the welcome, finish pages, and dashboard.

DocReader

Students can also use Readspeaker to listen to any resource files included in their exams. When enabled, a toolbar appears in the resource file, allowing text playback and additional options. Similar to WebReader, clicking the play button starts the reading aloud of page text. Candidates can highlight text for reading as well. DocReader is implemented for all question types but keep in mind that it is limited to reading text only.

Getting Started with Readspeaker

Keen to level the playing field for your candidates with Readspeaker? Please reach out to our Service Desk, they will connect you with a Readspeaker representative to acquire your license. Once you obtain the license, your Cirrus Support Agent will activate it in your environment. You can then enable Readspeaker for eligible candidates through their user profiles.

Not a Cirrus customer yet? Let’s talk about how we can help you become compliant with accessibility laws.

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Mathijs Urbanus
Mathijs heads up Cirrus' Customer Support Team. With his technical expertise and experience helping our diverse customers get the most out of Cirrus, he knows the platform like no other.
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