[Athen] Alternative To Kurzweil 3000 for STEM

Alexa Schriempf ats169 at psu.edu
Sun Feb 23 11:55:19 PST 2014

Hi All,

I have a student who, due to concussions, has a visual convergence disorder
in which her eyes struggle to focus on printed text and images. She is very
successfully using Kurzweil 3000 to both zoom in and listen to voiceover

However, many of her textbooks are STEMs, and quite a few of them have
scientific notation within each line of text. Our scanning services are too
under-resourced to edit each line, and Kurzweil can't voice each line
gracefully enough such that the student could ignore the garbled voice.
Essentially, each line boils down to sounding something like, "The
coefficient variable of X *garble* multiplied by the coefficient Y
*garble*..." It should be saying X squared, and Y factorial. This is just a
small example of the problem -- in reality, magnify this by 30 or 40
instances per page, per book.

Some of her books are available in ePub, and I'm working closely with those
to make them formatted and readable more fluently by Kurzweil. Others of
her books however are in our most favored PDF format. With those, Kurzweil
is simply not an option. I am having the student test out our CCTV to
magnify the book onto a very large flat screen monitor. By increasing the
size and adjusting the contrast, I am hoping that she'll be able to read
the texts without inducing the usual fatigue and migraines.

My question to the list: what other technologies/solutions/workarounds have
been used in these situations? Voice over audio would be helpful but
getting the text enlarged is most key.


Alexa Schriempf, Access Tech Consultant
Office for Disability Services
Teaching and Learning with Technology: Accessibility Group
Adaptive Technology Services, University Libraries
Penn State
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