By Britney Botez | Staff Writer
The Whitworth Library received a brand new technological resource this spring semester. This text-to-audio scanner allows students with reading barriers better access to academic materials they may need.
Marianna Bracke, director of library instructional services and professor, said that students have been asking for this type of technology “since at least 2017.” She said that the technology only recently became affordable enough to add to the Whitworth Library’s resources.
This new text-to-audio scanner is located on the first floor of the library. The scanner can allow students who may have impaired vision or learning disabilities such as dyslexia to better access handouts from their classes as well as other written materials such as books, manuscripts, newspapers and more.
The scanner works by scanning written PDF pages into mp3 files. Anyone with access to the library can walk up to the scanner and select the page they wish to scan and then insert the page into the scanner. After the material is scanned, the user can use the display screen to select which format they would like to receive their text in and if they would like their scanned text to be delivered to them via SMS or email. If the user selects mp3 as the format for their scan, they will receive an audible version of their text to their phone or laptop in a matter of seconds.
The goal of this technology is to make written material more user-friendly and accessible for anyone who might benefit from it. “The ability to scan text to audio files is great for increasing accessibility,” Bracke said.
While the text-to-audio scanner is available for anyone to use in the library, some students are unaware that this technology is now available to them. Bracke said, “It has been used, but it could always be used a lot more. ”