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About Us
Welcome to Reading Companion!
Reading Companion is IBM's web-based literacy grant initiative that uses voice recognition technology to help children and adults learn how to read.
This multi-million-dollar grant program has been available for free to schools and nonprofit organizations such as public libraries, community colleges, and agencies that offer adult literacy services. Individuals who wish to access this software must be affiliated with an existing Reading Companion grant site.
Developed by IBM researchers working in partnership with schools and not-for-profit organizations, Reading Companion is an effective and easy-to-use technology that assists individuals as they learn to read. This innovative software 'listens' and provides feedback, enabling emerging readers to practice reading and their English pronunciation as they acquire fundamental reading skills.
How it works
Users log on to the Reading Companion web site and are presented with material to read. An on-screen mentor, or companion, "reads" a phrase to the user and then provides an opportunity for the user to read the material, using a headset microphone. (Depending on the accuracy of what was read, the companion provides positive reinforcement (e.g., "You sound great!"), gives the user an opportunity to try again, or offers the correct reading of the words on the screen. As the user's skill improves, the technology reads less material so that the learner reads more.
Since the Reading Companion software is available through the Web, students can access it anytime and anywhere. Once students sign in with their own ID and password, the software resumes where the student left off reading and continues to update the student's reading results.
The Reading Companion software is designed to supplement, not replace, existing literacy curriculum in the school setting or within an adult literacy program. Teachers can choose the right books for individual students to read by checking books out of Reading Companion's virtual library. To help them in their selection, teachers can read book reviews. The software also has a student evaluation feature that allows teachers to view the individual progress of a student and helps teachers make assessments and recommendations for the learner.
Independent evaluations of the technology demonstrate that children who use the software tested significantly higher on word recognition and comprehension tasks. For adults, the software not only improved reading skills but also helped improve their English pronunciation; it also provided adults with an opportunity to learn in a new way by combining visual and auditory methods.
Technical Information
Reading Companion system requirements
For contact information or to see a list of the participating organizations, please visit the "Contact Us" page on the web site. The current grant program is not open to additional organizations at this time.
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