Disability Services

Free and Low Cost Reading Programs

Free to CSU Students

  • Read&Write – This is an outstanding product for reading and writing assistance for people with learning disabilities. It runs in Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS. Cleveland State has an unlimited site license so that our students can install the product on their personal computers for use off campus and use it in nearly every computer lab on campus. This product has a wide variety of reading tools. It also has optical character recognition scanning tools for documents students encounter without underlying text to read.
  • ReadSpeaker and Blackboard Ally – These are accessibility applications which CSU has licensing for improving the accessibility of Blackboard content. ReadSpeaker is a text to speech app built into the Blackboard environment which works with Respondus Lockdown Browser.
  • ZoomText Fusion and JAWS – These are feature rich magnification and screen reading applications for Windows. CSU students with active CSU e-mail accounts can use these products via the Freedom Scientific Licensing Portal.

Free Text to Speech Applications

The following applications are free to any user. There are also tools not listed that are free and built into applications like MS Office, Adobe Reader, and eBook Readers like Kindle and Vital Source.

  • Apple Spoken Content and VoiceOver – apps built into MacOS and iOS that are very effective and simple to use.
  • Android Select to Speak - This feature is in the accessibility toolkit for Android. There is a YouTube video about Android Select to Speak which shows how to activate and use it.
  • Natural Reader – This application for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android has free use versions that have a limited feature set. It is also a low-cost tool with some features hidden behind a paywall.
  • Balabolka this is a free reading program that runs on Windows. It opens many document formats like Word, HTML, PDF, and plain text. The program looks like a simple word processor and has the playback controls and voice adjustments in toolbars above the document. The program can highlight text as it reads and has adjustable highlighting options.
  • @VOICE ALOUD READER - This is a free Android app for reading documents and has a clipboard reader function as well.
  • NVDA - This is a free full function screen reader that works on Windows XP and later. It will work in most popular Windows applications like Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is a much better screen reader than Windows built-in Narrator and some people feel it works better than JAWS.

Low Cost Apps

The following apps are not licensed or supported by Cleveland State. We have students using them for accessing course content and they are effective. This is a short list of reading apps. There are many apps available for all operating systems and new apps are being released all the time.

  • VoiceDream Reader - This reading app is available on iOS, Android and MacOS. It is available as a purchase or as a subscription service.
  • Speechify - This company advertises heavily on social media and is subscription based. Because of the advertisements many students pay for this app before learning about available free options at CSU that may be just as effective.