EPUB Reading Systems for Students with Learning Disabilities

Handouts Media

Presented at 9:15am in Cotton Creek I on Thursday, November 21, 2019.



  • Joseph Polizzotto, Accessibility Technologist, Wake Technical Community College
  • Richard Orme, Chief Executive Office, DAISY Consortium

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


EPUB reading systems offer rich learning opportunities for students with disabilities, such as dyslexia, traumatic brain injury, and attention deficit disorder. In this session, we will compare and contrast popular EPUB reading systems and their support of the study skills that these students need the most.


As EPUB gains more currency across the higher education landscape, it is important that students with learning disabilities not be left behind. EPUB reading systems abound but with varying levels of support for the features that these students need. This session will provide accessibility specialists with an overview of which EPUB reading systems have the features their students need the most.

First, we will examine what are the most important reading system features for students with learning disabilities. These features include read aloud (text to speech), visual adjustments, dictionary look-up, highlighting, and annotation. Second, we will compare and contrast a variety of EPUB reading systems, showcasing the varying levels of support for these study skills. In particular, we will review the following popular reading systems: Kurzweil 3000, Read and Write, Capti Voice, Apple Books, Voice Dream, Vital Source Bookshelf, Dolphin Easy Reader, and more.


  1. EPUB reading systems (RS) are beneficial for students with learning disabilities
  2. EPUB reading systems vary in their support for the study skills that LD students need
  3. Accessibility specialists must grasp the differences between EPUB apps before recommending one to students

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Psychological

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Joseph Polizzotto

Joseph is the Alternate Media Supervisor at UC Berkeley. He previously was Assistive Technology Specialist Instructor at the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) of the California Community Colleges, where he trained college faculty and staff on alternate media workflows and assistive technology.

Joseph received a B.A. degree in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A. degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from San José State University. He has over 15 years of teaching experience in ESL and basic skills. His research interests include accessible EPUB 3 and mobile reading systems.

Richard Orme

When teaching in a college in rural England more than 30 years ago, Richard encountered his first blind student, beginning a career in what we now refer to as accessibility. He has worked for local, national and international organizations, with young, old, and very old people, with visual, physical, dual sensory and cognitive disabilities. For over twenty years Richard worked at RNIB, where he conducted more than 400 technology assessments for people with sight loss in education or employment. Having identified a critical lack of accessible curriculum materials, Richard led an initiative for a national database of accessible textbooks, now grown to become the UK Education Collection operating as RNIB Bookshare.

Richard is Chief Executive of the DAISY Consortium, the global organization whose mission is to develop standards and solutions for accessible publishing and reading. He is Chair of the Right to Read Alliance in the UK, a founding member of the UK Publishers Association Accessibility Action Group, serves on the board of the Accessible Books Consortium (an initiative of the UN agency WIPO) and is a director of the regional blind association in the county where he lives. He volunteers in his community providing home visiting support for people with disabilities. Richard’s brother James has a profound learning disability, and his son Jim has dyslexia.