• August 30, 2016

Student using iPadAlmost every operating system on the market now provides basic to advanced supports for students in reading and writing without the need to purchase additional software. Furthermore, the use of Google Chrome Apps and Extensions provides further avenues for literacy supports. Therefore, the question is no longer, “Does a particular support exist on this device?” but rather, “What is the best support that will assist a student in a specific area given the many options that now exist?”

This document strives to identify some of the available tools in specific support areas, categorize them as built-in support, web-based support, or Google Chrome support, and provide recommendations on the best supports in each category for each specific device. In terms of devices, the resources described in this document are limited to Mac computers, Windows PC computers, Chromebooks, and iPads.

What this document will not cover will be the use of third party software to provide supports or the use of iPad apps that can be used to assist students with their learning. An accompanying document will provide instructional material on how to use the specific supports that are listed in this guide. The individual supports that will be discussed in this document include the following:

Speech to Text (Dictation)
Text to speech (TTS)
Word Prediction
Web Cleansing (Distiller)
Text Summarizer


It can be challenging endeavour identifying which literacy tool provides the best support for a student who may experience writing difficulties given the many supports that are available. In creating this document, I have tried to put aside personal preferences and biases and focused on the tool that requires the least number of steps to access. In many cases, this was the built-in support tool that is built into the operating system. In other cases, where a multitude of options existed, consideration was given to consistency as well as projected longevity of the tool. At a time when app extensions are frequently being introduced but also dropped from the Chrome store, it is imperative that only tools that have a long shelf life be considered. There may also be an argument for familiarization with a tool suite rather than individual extensions.

A summary of all of the recommended features is listed below. Clicking on any of the support tools will open a tutorial file on how to use that support tool.

Support Mac iPad PC Chromebook
Dictation Built-in Built-in Read&Write Read&Write
Text to Speech Built-in Built-in Read&Write Read&Write
Word Prediction Read&Write Built-in Read&Write Read&Write
Dictionary Built-in Built-in Read&Write Read&Write
Distiller Safari Safari Chrome Chrome
Summarizer Read&Write n/a Read&Write Read&Write