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What is DocReader?


DocReader, a feature of ReadSpeaker, enables online documents displayed within Brightspace to be speech-enabled, allowing students to listen to the text of the documents. A DocReader button appears above or next to online documents in Brightspace lesson content. Clicking on the DocReader button converts the document into DocReader format and opens it in a new browser window or tab, displaying the first page of the document, a toolbar for accessing DocReader's features, and a sidebar for document navigation. The user can navigate to other pages in the document in various ways. On any page of the document, the student can listen to the text of that page by pressing the Listen button in the toolbar. DocReader highlights the sentence and the word currently being read in two different colors, and reads the text section by section in the order defined in the document. If text is selected, only the selected text will be read out loud when the Listen button is clicked, rather than the entire content of the page.


The toolbar of docReader displays buttons for the following functions:
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  1. Show/hide the sidebar to navigate through the document and select a document page
  2. Start, stop, pause or restart the reading
  3. Select layout mode to view the original document layout
  4. Select text mode to view a text-oriented version of the document. This mode allows the user to adjust the way the text is presented for better readability
  5. More tools - expand the toolbar to show additional functions
  6. Help - opens a web page with instructions for using docReader.

The additional toolbar displayed after selecting "More tools" in the standard toolbar contains buttons for the following functions:

  • Settings: opens a pop-up window that allows the user to customize general settings and highlighting options which are applicable to both layout and text mode. The settings include reading speed, user interface language, automatic reading upon clicking, automatic flipping to the next page upon reaching the end of a page, as well as the option to choose color or underlining, or turn off highlighting for words and sentences.
  • Page Mask: a reading tool that enhances focus by masking the rest of the screen above and below the horizontal bar that appears when this feature is activated. The user can move it down along with the reading to maintain better focus.
  • Reading Ruler: a reading tool that displays a grey horizontal bar on the screen which can be moved along the text as it is being read, helping the reader focus on the line being read.
  • Highlighter: this feature allows users to mark important sentences in the document and collect them to produce a summary which can be saved as a PDF file.

All the functionalities of docReader, including the docReader button and the docReader toolbar buttons, can be accessed via keyboard. The user can navigate using Tab/Shift+Tab keys and activate a feature using the Enter or Space key. docReader supports the following document formats:

  • .pdf (tested up to Adobe® PDF version 1.7)
  • .doc (Microsoft® Word™ 2002-2003)
  • .docx (Microsoft® Word™ 2007 and later)
  • .odt (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Writer)
  • .rtf (Rich Text Format)
  • .epub (ePub2 document)
  • .pps/.ppt/.pptx/ (Microsoft® PowerPoint™)
  • .xls/.xlsx (Microsoft® Excel™)***
  • .odp (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Presentation)
  • .ods (Apache OpenOffice™/LibreOffice Spreadsheet)

Please note that while docReader can read spreadsheet formats (.ods, .xls, .xlsx), it has limited support for table reading and will essentially read everything as text. Furthermore, docReader is not designed to work within Google Docs. However, users can download a Google Doc to one of the supported file types listed above to use docReader.

docReader is compatible with all devices and browsers and does not require any downloads or software installations for use by students.

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