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Audio-Supported Reading for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired


Richard Jackson and Ike Presley


National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center)


The purpose of this paper is to define and elucidate the practice of audio-supported reading (ASR) as a powerful means of accessing and making productive use of text. To begin with, this paper defines  ASR is a technology-based approach for augmenting and enhancing access to and use of text—either braille or print. Ordinarily, young students learn to read through the mediums of either braille or print. At some time during the acquisition of skills essential for reading, such as decoding or rapid naming of words, technologies like accessible personal digital assistants (PDAs) with a refreshable braille display or electronic print magnification systems are introduced. No set sequence has been agreed upon for integrating or aligning assistive technologies with early literacy skills, but the need to incorporate assistive technologies within educational programs for these children is widely recognized (Cooper & Nichols, 2007; Kapperman, Sticken, & Heinze, 2002; Strobel, Fossa, Arthanat, & Brace, 2006). As students progress further into the upper grades, they are either encouraged or explicitly taught to use audio systems (human readers, talking books, synthesized speech) to supplement their braille or print access to text. Thus, the practice of teaching blind and visually impaired students relies upon separate and distinct curricula in literacy instruction, such as 1) a curriculum to address early braille or print reading, 2) a curriculum for focusing on technology skills, and 3) a curriculum to teach listening skills (Corn & Koenig, 2002).

For more information, see our Audio-Supported Reading page.

Audio-Supported Reading (ASR)

Technique used to support the rapid reading of digital text by displaying portions of text with synthesized speech.

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Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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Refreshable Braille

Provided by an electronic device display or terminal by raising dots or pins through holes in a flat surface, and displaying 40 to 80 braille cells at one time.

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Jackson, R.M. & Presley, I. (2012). Audio-Supported Reading for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved [insert date] from