Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Premier Assistive Literacy Software Bundle

Written by Luke Hsieh, Assistive Technology Advocate, Community Access Center, Riverside

In the field of assistive literacy software, one cannot go very far without talking about WYNN and Openbook from Freedom Scientific. I believe they have achieved a marketing triumph, therefore WYNN and Openbook have become a staple in assistive technology labs everywhere. This article is neither about Wynn nor Openbook, though I'd be happy to write one by popular demand. This article is about what can one do if one does not have $995.00 for WYNN Wizard or $995.00 for OpenBook.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Premier Literacy Bundle. For $249 you get a talking word processor, talking dictionary, text to mp3 conversion software, scan and read software, word prediction software and a PDF editor. Now, I am not going to lie, the software has minor glitches here and there, and—for crying out loud—don't run the talking grammar checker on a 96-page document. The voice engine (Cepestral) included in the bundle is, quite frankly, horrendous. But even with all the above mentioned failings, if one switches the voice engine to Ivona or Neospeech, the software can be very charming.

The talking word processor comes with spell check, grammar check, thesaurus and word prediction. It may not be as powerful as Microsoft Word 2007 (so don't try to do footnotes), but it does get little jobs done, and I adore how it automatically proofreads after every sentence.

Word Prediction Pro works in conjunction with other software such as Microsoft Word 2007. It's a real time saver, but it drains memory, so be ready to reboot now and then.

Despite the harsh review, I actually love this bundle very much. I'd not hesitate to recommend it to all my friends and fellow AT enthusiasts because it does little jobs so well and big jobs are often made of many small jobs. I definitely do not regret buying the bundle. It does just about everything WYNN and Openbook do and then some.

What type of assistive literacy software do you use? DO you have a favorite? If given the choice, would you buy it again?

The above article represents the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the AT Network or its staff.


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