DVC software program enhances basic skills


Andrew Barber

Hayder Radhi, civil engineering major, demonstrates Kurzweil using the highlighting tool in the program on Feb. 20, 2014 in the High Tech Center at DVC.

Rachel Ann Reyes, Editor-in-chief

What was once aimed to help students in the Disability Support Services, will now be available for struggling students in basic skills courses.

Kurzweil 3000 is a software program that converts text to speech, which helps students learn through visuals and sounds.

According to Nancy Deason, a learning disability specialist and liaison to the English department, this program helps students who have reading disabilities, low vision or attention issues.

Deason explains that students can download Kurzweil 3000 on their personal computer or it may even be used on campus in conjunction with their textbook stored in digital form.

She also explains that while this program is useful for those with disabilities, it also proves to be handy for those without disabilities as well.

We have a legal mandate to provide this service to students with certain types of disabilities,” she said. “However, because the tool could be so effective for English as a second language learners, students who may just be slow readers… it has a lot of applications for students. So we’re trying to spread it to more, to non-disabled students.”

Deason also emphasized that this program appeals to people who learn in different ways, whether it be through visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning; Kurzweil is able to apply all of this.

Rose Desmond, alternate media specialist, described that the program allows students to choose a male or female voice to read to them and they may also control the speed of that voice. Students may highlight the text within Kurzweil and extract what is chosen to place in a different document.

By pulling the notes into a new document, Kurzweil is able to read it back to students, which can be helpful since hearing the text aloud word by word is better to catch mistakes.

Hayder Radhi, a civil engineering major who has been using Kurzweil for a year and a half, echoed this sentiment explaining that this program offers many helpful tools and is simple to use.

Other students seem to share the same positive outlook on this program.

Addictions studies and sociology major, Renee Taylor, explained that Kurzweil’s ability to highlight the text in different colors helps improve her memory and also helps her build stronger papers.

Shaneena Davis, 31, has been using Kurzweil at DVC for the past two years and finds the program to be helpful with her studies.

“I like it,” she said. “For me, I get intimidated by large books with a lot of words in it, so it’s kind of hard for me to focus and read it, but with Kurzweil I feel comfortable because it’s actually reading it to me and then I can follow along as I’m reading it and then it’s easier for me to retain the information…”

Desmond explains that Kurzweil is currently available for on campus use in labs such as the High Tech Center, English lab and the quiet room in the library.

Along with mutual student sentiment, Desmond finds that this program truly helps students succeed.

“That’s why I enjoy my job so much, it’s because I have my students come back and say, ‘if it wasn’t for this, I would not succeed,'” she said. “When I hear the success stories in the students that say, ‘I just could not made it without having my books in this;’ that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help them succeed.”

For more information on how to gain this program, contact Nancy Deason at (925) 969-2172 or [email protected].