New Accessibility and Learning Tools Available at Penn State

This fall, Penn State students, faculty, and staff gained access to two additional learning tools they can use at no cost. These resources join the existing assortment of free accessibility tools that were already available to Penn State World Campus students.

Read & Write

Read & Write is a tool that includes a variety of features, including the ability to have digital content such as websites, Word documents, and PDFs read out loud. This software allows you to adjust the reading speed, fast forward and rewind, and highlight text as it is read.

In addition to the reading options, it also comes with additional learning features, such as:

  • picture dictionary
  • verb checker
  • screenshot reader
  • translator
  • word prediction
  • screen masking

Read & Write Gold is available for both Windows and Mac, as well as via a Chrome extension. Learn more and download Read & Write to get started.


Ally is a document conversion tool that is integrated into most Canvas courses at World Campus. For faculty and staff, Ally provides an easy way to check and improve the accessibility of documents and Canvas content. For students, Ally helps convert documents into a variety of formats quickly and easily.

On any Canvas content page or linked document, students can select Ally’s Alternative Format icon to open a menu that lists several other format types. Some available options include Word document, tagged PDF, audio file, and Immersive Reader. Once a format is selected, the original content can be converted and downloaded in a matter of seconds. This greatly expands how students can interact with their course content, allowing them to engage in a format that works best for them.

Visit Penn State’s Ally resource to learn more about how this tool can benefit both students and course authors.

Related content: 

  • Course Accessibility: Avoiding a Separate Experience — find out how the Learning Design team at World Campus strives to ensure all students can engage in their courses without the need for a separate learning environment 
  • Requesting accommodations — while the tools mentioned above may help make documents and online course content more accessible for everyone, you can always request specific accommodations through Student Disability Services