[Technology 837] Re: Changing reading levels of text questions

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Mariann Fedele MariannF at lacnyc.org
Wed Feb 7 12:49:25 EST 2007

Hello Patti and all,

I asked one of my colleagues, Dr. Winston Lawrence, to provide a brief
response to you post. The below message is forwarded to the list on his

Hi Mariann:

I am not aware of any software that can translate content from one
reading level to another. I agree with Denis that the process has to be
done in one's head. In other words you have to rewrite the material that
may be written at a 12th grade level and produce a text that will be
at the 6th or 7th grade level. When you are done, you would do a
readability check to see the reading level. In our plain language work
at the LAC, we have been mindful of the fact that substituting one word
for another - swapping words or using synonyms - is not the way to go.
We look at the whole passage and try to determine the purpose(s) of the
text and then do a rewrite.

The point raised as regards the use of pictures is also a valid - that
pictures do not automatically allow low literate students to gain
greater meaning. Recently, we conducted some interviews with students
and showed them some visuals related to HIV from some brochures. They
gave very different interpretations to the visuals and said that the
visuals did not make any sense. So in using pictures, one needs to be
careful about one's assumptions. The pictures need to have a known
schema and should mirror the text as much as possible. Otherwise it is


Winston Lawrence Ed. D

Senior Professional Development Associate

Literacy Assistance Center

32 Broadway, 10th Floor

New York, NY 10004

Tel: 212-803-3326

Fax: 212-785-3685

Email: winstonl at lacnyc.org

Mariann Fedele

Associate Director,

NYC Regional Adult Education Network

Literacy Assistance Center

NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List
32 Broadway 10th Floor
New York, New York 10004
mariannf at lacnyc.org


From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Patti White
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 4:21 PM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 832] Changing reading levels of text questions

I received the following request and I'm stumped. Here's the request:


Do you know of a computer program that takes text and offers suggestions
for dropping the reading level...... As in maybe 10th grade to 5th
grade.....Is there software that does that other than just using the
Flesch-Kincaid Readability stats and doing it by hand???

Next question....When you are adapting text for folks with literacy
issues........you know how you drop the reading level down and augment
with pictures.....Is there a term that is used for that ....something
like ...modified text with pictures or something like that.....????


The only thing I can find that might help is the Auto Summarize feature
in Microsoft Word, but it's not really appropriate. Does anyone know of
some software that will drop the reading level of text? And is there a
term for that process?

Thanks for whatever help anyone can give,

Patti White

Patti White, M.Ed.

Disabilities Project Manager

Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center

prwhite at madisoncounty.net


800.569.3539 ph/fax/tty

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