Two free new learning resources have been released by JISC TechDis, a education advisory service on accessible and inclusive technology, to boost skills for learners with and without disabilities.
The first resource will help learners who use text-to-speech applications: two new voices for text-to-speech were commissioned from specialists CereProc available for free to learners and learning institutes.
The male and female voices – named “TechDis Jack” and “TechDis Jill” – are designed to be easy to understand, “youthful and modern”. TechDis Jill possesses a Northern English accent, which its creators believe is a first in text-to-speech.
According to the TechDis website, “all staff and learners over 16 in every publicly-funded learning provider in England should be eligible for the TechDis Voices, which can be downloaded after registering.
The second project to be launched was the JISC TechDis Toolbox, with information to help people use ICT and online technologies more effectively in employment.
This information is divided into five main categories: ‘using technology’, ‘planning and organisation’, ‘communicating’, ‘teamworking’, and ‘different needs?’ It includes guidance on how to carry out effective Google searches; and how to operate text-to-speech on some mobile devices.
The resources were launched at ND’12, the seventh national digital inclusion conference, held in London last month. In a launch video, Alistair McNaught of JISC TechDis said: “We spent eight years working with learning providers from the top down, helping to influence senior management teams, librarians, learning support staff, tutors, etc, and telling them about the kinds of tools and technology that could make a difference to their learners.
“But while that was fantastic in some areas, in many places it just wasn’t trickling down to the learner, so we decided to flip it over and work form the learner upwards. The whole point of the Toolbox is to take all the things you wish your tutor might have told you about but never did, and take that to learners directly.”
The work was funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.