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Kurzweil 3000 FAQ

[Printable View pdf] [Kurzweil Quick Guides]

What is Kurzweil?

Kurzweil 3000 is a software program that can convert text to speech and “read” text aloud. It includes on-screen study tools such as electronic highlighter pens, sticky notes, a dictionary and teacher-added prompts. This type of program is often referred to as “text reader software.” In addition, the Professional (scan and read) version of Kurzweil 3000 has the capability to scan worksheets, documents, and even books, and convert the scanned image to readable text.

What is the difference between a Network Read Only License and the Professional Full/Scan License of Kurzweil?

 “Learn Station” License (sometime called the “Read Only” License)
The Learn Station license is used by students to have text read aloud.  Kurzweil Learn Station is networked throughout a school building and available on every computer.  However, it is metered by how many licenses a school has. For example, if a school has 10 licenses then only 10 users can access it a time. 

“Professional License” (sometimes called the “Full Scan” License)
Schools usually only have one Kurzweil Professional License which can be used only on the computer which is connected to the scanner. The Professional License has the capability to scan worksheets, documents and books and convert them to digital text.  It also provides the Kurzweil Virtual Printer converts MS Word Documents and PDF's to a Kurzweil file format without scanning.  The Professional license also allows you to edit errors in reading text or determine which sections of the page get read in which order.  This is called “text editing” and “zone editing.”

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I need to order Kurzweil for my school.  What should I do?

You should be sure to purchase the version currently supported by MCPS.  If you are purchasing a Professional License, you need to make sure you have the compatible scanner.  If you have a question about purchasing Kurzweil please contact:

Speri Silverman
Special Education

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Which  schools have Kurzweil?

All MCPS secondary schools have Kurzweil.  Middle schools have at least 10 Learn Station licenses and one Professional license. The number of licenses varies at high schools depending on how many were purchased by schools. All elementary schools in Tech Mod 06, 09, and 10 have at least 10 Learn Station licenses of Kurzweil and one Professional license.  Kurzweil licensing varies in TM 07 and 08 schools because purchasing of Kurzweil was an individual school decision. 

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How much does Kurzweil Cost?

MCPS purchases Kurzweil through Envision Technology in Bethesda, MD.  The following prices are on the MCPS Assistive Technology bid list.  One Professional license is $525.00.  The Learn Station licenses are $155.00. (Please note, these prices or for MCPS school purchases only.  Parents should see the purchasing page for vendors that sell directly to individuals.)

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How does Kurzweil Benefit Struggling Readers?

Students, who are not successful reading hardcopies of text, can use Kurzweil to read academic text independently. Unlike verbatim reading, Kurzweil reinforces print processing. Students who most benefit from Kurzweil are those who can integrate auditory and visual information, but have slow reading rates or poor endurance. (Elkind, 1998).  Kurzweil helps students attend better to their reading, reduce reading distractibility, read with less fatigue, read for longer periods of time, and read faster to complete reading assignments in less time (Hecker, Burns, Elkind & Katz, 2002).

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Does there need to be some documentation in the IEP before a student is permitted to use Kurzweil in the classroom?

 No, there are no restrictions on who can use Kurzweil. However, if a student requires the use of a to a text reader in order to access the curriculum, then the IEP team should document that as an instructional accommodation on the IEP.  Also remember that while there are no restrictions on who is allowed to use Kurzweil, there are restrictions on scanning and distributing of copyrighted materials.  See the Bookshare FAQ for more information.  

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Does there need to be some documentation in the IEP before a student is permitted to use Kurzweil as an accommodation for testing?

Yes. Furthermore, students should not be expected to use Kurzweil successfully during testing if they do not have access to it for instruction. Students have been known to lower their test scores if they use Kurzweil for the first time in a testing situation. If the IEP team determines that a student needs a text reader to access the curriculum, then “screen reader” should be checked off on that student’s IEP as an accommodation.  The IEP should not state “Kurzweil” but “screen reader.” 

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If everyone can use Kurzweil, then why was my school only provided with 10 licenses?

The Special Education office purchased enough licenses of Kurzweil to meet the needs of special education students who require a text reader for access to the curriculum.  If there are others in the building needing to use Kurzweil such that there are insufficient licenses to support all users then it is the responsibility of the school to decide how to use the resources available in the building and purchase more licenses as needed.

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What is the Copyrighted Text Folder?

The Copyrighted Text Folder is a network location for storing digital text that cannot legally be placed in a public location due to copyright law.  Access to the folder is restricted to staff and students who have been found eligible by the school team  The Copyrighted Text Folder is located in the Student Shared drive on your school network.

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I have a student who is eligible to use copyrighted materials in digital format.  How do I get these materials in digital format?

Three resources are available to you for locating and using copyrighted material in digital format with your eligible students:

  1. Find and download the book on Bookshare.org
  2. Check the UDL Share Space for a copy of the book
  3. Request the book from the Special Education Office
  4. Scan and convert it yourself using your school’s scanner with the Professional license of Kurzweil

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How do I request a book from the Special Education Office?

  1. check the MCPS e-text database in the Copyrighted Text Folder to see if the book you want has already been scanned.
  2. If the book has been scanned, email Speri Silverman to request to have your book placed in the Copyrighted Text Folder at your school.
  3. If the book has not been scanned then you must pony a hard copy of the book to Speri Silverman.  The book's binding will have to be cut off in order for it to be scanned.  Pony hard copies of books to:

Speri Silverman
Lynnbrook Center

Please allow for a 2 - 3 week turnaround time for all scanning requests.  It is best to send large textbooks to be scanned over the summer instead of during the school year.

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How do students get access to the Copyrighted Text Folder?

The special education team needs to ensure that the Information Technology Support Specialist (ITSS) is provided with the names of eligible students. The ITSS will give these students access to the Copyrighted Text Folder.  Once they have access, they can open a file by launching Kurzweil, using the File-Open command, and navigating to the Copyrighted Text folder.

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What’s the difference between “scanning” and “editing” a Kurzweil file?

Scanning a Kurzweil file means that a paper document has been scanned into Kurzweil and is saved in Kurzweil format. However, there may be errors generated during file conversion or Kurzweil may need help understanding how the text flows on the page.  The file needs to be edited to remove any errors.  Editing requires two steps:

  1. Zone Editing – This process ensures text is reading in the right order.
  2. Correct Recognition – This process ensures text is reading correctly.

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When I request a file from the Special Education Office, will it be edited?

Not necessarily.  Most of the files have been scanned but not edited.  It is important to preview the files before you use them with your students to check for quality.  There should be someone at your school trained in editing in Kurzweil so he/she can make the necessary edits.  It is also important to work with your grade-level teams or departments to find out what text will be used so there is enough time to edit the files.

Editing files can be very time consuming.  Schools should share their files with other schools by posting them in the appropriate folder on the UDL Share Space and/or sending the edited version back to Speri Silverman for the next requestor. 

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Where can my school staff get help implementing Kurzweil in our school building?

  • Read What makes Kurzweil Effective? (235K pdf) to help make a plan for your school.
  • See the Kurzweil Quick Guides page.
  • HIAT offers several workshops and courses on Kurzweil.  Check the HIAT Training Page for descriptions and listings.  Sign up on the PDO.
  • Information and scheduling for these and other HIAT classes can be found on the Training Page.
  • Envision Technology offers free small group training at their Bethesda office. Call 301-654-3568. You can also request a free 30-day demo CD from Envision.

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Updated February 2, 2010 | Maintained by by Linda Wilson