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Immersive Reader in Powerpoint

by Allan Wilson

on Tue Apr 27, 2021

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Immersive Reader and Learning Tools have proven themselves to be very useful tools for supporting people with reading and writing difficulties over the last couple of years, so we were delighted when Microsoft recently added Immersive Reader to the Online version of Powerpoint.

Immersive Reader has been available as a variable set of tools in different 365 programs for around five years, but was missing from Powerpoint until earlier this month. The absence of the text-to-speech, coloured themes, line focus and other tools was a particular issue during the first Covid lockdown last year when teachers were sending assignments and study materials in Powerpoint files which learners with reading difficulties often found hard to read. Teacher forums often exchanged information on ingenious, complicated solutions to the problem, but the best solution was always for Immersive Reader tools to be added to Powerpoint.

So, how do you get into Immersive Reader in Powerpoint Online?

In Scotland, teachers and pupils can access Powerpoint Online through their Glow account, but people reading this blog from other places will have their own way of accessing it, so I am going to just assume you are in the online version of Powerpoint and have opened the file you want to look at.

Make sure that you are in Slide view, i.e. so that you can edit the slide, and not in Presentation view. If you ARE in Presentation view, press the ESC key on your keyboard to get back into Slide view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select some text, then Right-click with your mouse inside the text you have just selected and choose Open Immersive Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should now be viewing the text from your slide through Immersive Reader, though we have had occasional problems with connecting to it and have been asked to try again later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What features are included in Immersive Reader in Powerpoint?

Under Text Preferences, there are the usual Immersive Reader options:

  • Use a slider to change text size.
  • Increase space between lines and words.
  • Choose your preferred font from three options.
  • Choose a coloured theme to suit.
  • The text-to-speech option under the play button at the bottom of the screen gives a choice between a male voice, or a female voice. Both are good, clear voices, that are pleasant enough to listen to in my view, but there are no options for using a Scottish voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Options allows nouns, verbs adjectives and adverbs to be shown with a different text colour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Line Focus Option under Reading Preferences allows one, three, or five lines of text to be highlighted, with the rest of the screen shaded.

The Picture Dictionary links PCS (Boardmaker) symbols to individual words, and also allows the word to be read out in isolation. There isn't a symbol for every word. Tap on the word to see if there is a picture to accompany it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Translate facility allows the text on the slide to be translated into over 100 different languages, though there isn't always an appropriate computer voice to read text in each language.

Overall, the Immersive Reader tools (when they are working properly) are a very welcome addition to Powerpoint and will help learners with reading difficulties to engage with text that may be presented to them in the form of Powerpoint slides.

Tags: immersive reader, powerpoint, text to speech

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