Eastmont Middle School special-education teacher Jennifer Heaney has received a $1,674 grant from the Qwest Foundation to order five optical scanners that translate the written word into spoken sentences, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. The devices, known as Readingpens, are manufactured by WizCom Technologies in Westford, Mass. Heaney says they should help disabled students with reading impairments understand science and social-studies textbooks. She had considered buying textbooks on CDs, but realized that would make disabled students stand out from their peers. Plus, she’d have to buy separate copies for each new textbook the school purchased. The Readingpens seemed like a better idea. The user scans the tip of the pen over words and sentences, then the pen reads the text to the user through a pair of earbuds. "That way, you don’t have to have a specific CD for a specific book for each class. You can use it however and whenever you want. And it’s small enough that it doesn’t attract a lot of attention. You can use it fairly unnoticed," Heaney said…

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