Microsoft Immersive Reader in More of Canvas
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I'm excited to report that the Microsoft Immersive Reader is expanding to include more parts of Canvas! Soon the Immersive Reader will be available in Pages, Syllabus, Assignments (assignment instructions only), and the course Homepage (when appropriate). Noticeably absent from that list is Quizzes, but for good reasons! Let's talk about them...
In web-terminology a quiz is more of a "form" than a "web page." Web pages (i.e. Canvas Pages) are primarily content that translates well to a stripped down reading mode, while forms (i.e. quizzes) have lots of interactive elements that do not translate well when their context and interactions are stripped.
Two broad topics of discussion around Immersive Reader in quizzes are "where should the Immersive Reader be available in a quiz?" and "what functionality should be available?" because it's way more complicated than "everywhere" and "everything."
Quizzes are highly interactive, and the Immersive Reader strips interactive components that quiz questions rely on. Some question types really don't play nice with that concept such as matching questions. That implies a per-question Immersive Reader so it's only on the types that make sense, but even for the venerable multiple choice there is still the question of whether or not to put the answer options into the reader mode or not.
Immersive Reader does a lot of cool stuff like text-to-speech, a picture dictionary, part of speech highlighting, and even machine translation. Some of these are obviously incompatible with certain kinds of assessments (hello 100% on all my Spanish tests!) but adding a per feature toggle is far from ideal. And it's even less ideal if each feature could be toggled for each question that had the Immersive Reader available. Adding more settings to a quiz, which is already necessarily one of the most settings-ful parts of Canvas, could be overwhelming and confusing.
How can you help?
There is a lot of discovery between here and there when it comes to adding the Immersive Reader to quizzes. Where should it be available and why? Which features should be available and why? Should it be in quizzes at all?! We take accessibility and assessment very seriously in Canvas, and you can help by sharing your hopes and fears, thoughts and concerns in the comments below.
I appreciate the new areas MIR will be available in and agree that there are special considerations when in comes to quizzes. The one aspect I'd really like to be enabled in Quizzes if possible is for adjusting text size and background color. I've run across a few cases where a faculty member had to create print versions of exams and specifically print on blue paper as an accommodation. I don't know if the blue background is specific to a few students or is a common thing with accommodations, but if the immersive reader feature of changing the background color were available I believe this student could have taken the exam online and not require a print version. Just my $0.02; I know there is a lot more to consider when it comes to if and how for integrating it in a quiz tool.
For right now, a user should be able to CTRL + / CTRL - to increase/decrease the font size anywhere in Canvas (quizzes included!) High-Contrast mode might also be worth looking at if they haven't already, thought it doesn't currently change background colors.
Thanks for the feedback!
Is the Immersive Reader kept out of Classic Quizzes, New Quizzes, or both? This is an important consideration for us with regards to enabling Immersive Reader, so thank you for recognizing the need for controls around translation and quizzes.
If it were only as simple as "read only what shows on the screen."
How about read only what is contained in Rich Content Editor >when the block of text is clicked?<
I should have added, thank you for addressing this in the open air. Knowing the struggles helps with patience for more difficult tasks.
Thanks for asking that bit of clarification, @abbyrosensweig. The Immersive Reader is not available in Classic Quizzes or new Quizzes because they have the same UX concerns.
What about discussions? Is this waiting until the redesign is complete? Is it an issue around switching between read and write? For my 2¢, discussions are actually more important than quizzes for the Immersive Reader because they're inherently text heavy experiences.
@mwolfenstein, you nailed it. We're waiting on implementing the Immersive Reader in discussions at this stage of the redesign. It may not wait until after, but we're at least holding off for now.
Interestingly there are some similar considerations. Namely, should the whole discussion flip to reader mode or should it be per post? Similar issues around interactions being stripped from the reading mode.
Hi @dlyons - One of the most important sections within Canvas is the Modules page, which is where all of the coursework is. I do not see Modules being added to the immersive reader for the September update, are you planning this for future updates? Right now, I'm using the Kurzweil app Read the Web, but it would be great for it to be native within the course pages.
@LourdesM, do you mean the Modules page itself, or the content within a given Module? All of the content types mentioned will work with the Immersive Reader no matter how they're accessed, including through the Modules.
If you mean the actual Modules page itself, I don't think anyone has asked for that before and I hadn't considered it based on the user interviews I did. I'd love to hear how you think the Immersive Reader might improve that experience.
@dlyons Thanks for your quick reply - yes, the content within the modules is what I am referring to. That is great to hear that this feature will be available within modules. Thanks again!
Thanks for the released information. I love the MIR it's a time saver for the me.
Hi @dlyons I was wondering if there are any plans in the works to move the Immersive Reader button away from the Edit button?
Reason being is that when pages load, the IR button loads before the Edit page button does and it actually sits in the place of the Edit button until the page fully loads. The eager beaver that I am is always pressing Edit before the page loads and therefore I am always inadvertently ending up in the Immersive Reader. This is a bugbear for my colleagues as well. Light bulb moment when we all realised we experience the same thing!
I am the account admin for our district. We monitor the use of accommodations for our students and would like to pull usage data for the use of the Microsoft Immersive Reader tool in Canvas. Normally, students use other add-on tools that we have an account for and are able to pull data reports from. Is there a way to isolate this data by student use in Canvas?
@daniela, that does sound frustrating! But good news! The plan is indeed to move the MSIR button above the content so hopefully those misclicks will becomes a thing of the past.
Hi @dlyons - do you know when this will be added? I thought I had read somewhere that it would be early or mid September, but I can't find it in the release notes. Do you know where I may have read this? Thanks!
The timing for feature releases, when available, are always posted in the Canvas Roadmap.
Ok, thank you, Erin. I must have imagined seeing it was coming in September ( or I got confused with another feature or deploy). Thanks!
I use Immersive Reader in Canvas personally and I promote its use for our students. I have created videos showing how to access and use Immersive Reader's fantastic tools.
I work with the Disability Support Service so it's a superb tool for our learners.
I also use Canvas Public to host a course on free Technology to Make Learning Easier aimed at secondary school learners and teachers. It shows how to use free/built-in tools to make reading, writing, and studying easier (including Immersive Reader in Office 365).
This course is aimed at prospective students so Canvas Public was used to ensure access to any student, parent, or teacher with the link. It promotes the use of technology in learning in schools to ensure students with disabilities/learning difficulties who need to use assistive technology to access their curriculum are included by our teaching and learning tools/methods. It also means that students who progress to UCC are already familiar with navigating Canvas smoothing their transition even further.
I was very excited to see the Immersive Reader button on Canvas public in my Technology to Make Learning Easier course/resource and wanted to direct students to use it to access the course. I was disappointed to discover that Immersive Reader cannot be accessed in a Canvas Public course.
I understand when a user has a login with O365 tools then IR can be customised to that user and this would not be possible with Canvas Public but would it be possible to have users access IR and adjust the various settings to their needs each time.
Is this possible?
Is this something Canvas can address or does Microsoft need to address it?
It would be excellent to have Canvas Public users access these crucial accessibility tools, especially when my target students are those with disabilities/learning difficulties.
The Technology to Make Learning Easier course/resource is here:
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.
@deirdre_madden, unfortunately we're not able to support Immersive Reader in public courses at this time. If the users accessing the course would benefit from Immersive Reader I recommend they be enrolled in some capacity into the course.
Thanks for the reply dlyons. That's so disappointing to hear.
Our 23,000plus university students all have enrolled accounts of course but the Canvas Public course/s are aimed at including and enabling prospective students. Enrollments simply wouldn't work which was why we choose Canvas Public.
I know IR can be used without a login so is that challenge with Canvas rather than with Microsoft?
I am so keen to ensure prospective students trying our Canvas Public see how inclusive Canvas and UCC are in order to encourage them to consider university.
Hi @dlyons - In our district, all K-8 students are on iPads and many use the student app for the ease of login. But our young students desperately need the Immersive Reader to work on the Student App. What are the plans for extending Immersive Reader to Student app?
Do we need to submit this as a feature idea/request? Or is this on the roadmap?
I asked the MS folks here:
Thanks for this discussion @dlyons - this is a great discussion. It is good to hear about the updates happening to the Immersive reader and I'm glad for the careful consideration of how to handle quizzes. We have spent a lot of time thinking about this for students who require text to be read aloud as part of an accommodation for a disability.
This type of "screen reader lite" or read loud text functionality is super important for a large group of students on our campus, but interestingly falls outside the realm of what we typically think of around accessibility. Making sure content is accessible to screen readers is important for screen readers - but this usually ends up being a different sort of functionality that is required.
At our university (and I would expect more broadly) we only have a handful of students who use a full screen reader such as JAWS or VoiceOver, but hundreds of students who do not use a screen reader, but do have an accommodation that requires basic text-to-speech functionality. For most of the content in Canvas we are able to use free browser plugins such as Read Aloud or Read&Write. However, most of the tools in this category also have challenges in reading a loud at least some types of interactive content that shows up in quizzes (i.e. drop downs, drag and drop) and sometimes conflict with proctoring solutions.
All that said - it would be incredible if Immersive Reader could work for quizzes to help fill that gap. It is great it works elsewhere, but quizzes are the most important need for many of these students to have the content read aloud to help them process and be able to fully participate in those assessment experiences.
If that would be possible - it would be fantastic if both the questions and answers for quiz types could be made available to read the content aloud. The other options/features in Immersive Reader would not be as important for this use case for us - but the ability to have all quiz content read aloud would be huge!
@dlyons Following up with @Hildi_Pardo 's question about timing, I checked the roadmap and didn't see specific reference to these updates. The blog mentions "soon". I assumed that meant this quarter, but does the lack of reference mean that it's on a future portion of the roadmap?
@STUARTA and @Hildi_Pardo,
The release will be in Q4 (which here means Oct - Dec). Exact dates will be listed when the roadmap is updated as Erin mentioned above. The Q4 roadmap in the Community will be updated before Q4 starts.
Thanks for the clarification @dlyons . We were debating sharing the news with students in the upcoming newsletter but didn't want to get a flood of confused students contacting us. I'll put it on the list for a possible winter term announcement instead. Thanks!
Chiming on Quizzes. Right now teachers use the media recorder to record audio of the question for students. That's currently only an option in Classic quizzes, and while audio files can be added to a New Quiz question, the recording feature isn't part of the editor making this much more cumbersome. For students who require having quiz questions read aloud to them, Immersive Reader would be a huge improvement. I understand that not every quiz should be able to be read aloud, but it would be great for teacher to be able to enable Immersive Reader as a Quiz setting and have it appear as a accommodation option.
Separately, Read and Write was mentioned. Has anyone been able to use that with New Quizzes? I tested the extension and would not read my questions.
Okay. My turn.
Our current workaround that takes too much effort on the part of the teacher and student that having Immersive Reader work in Quizzes would solve is...
In addition to creating the Quiz, the teacher places a "text only" version of the quiz on a Canvas Page (where Immersive Reader works).
Then, students are directed to open two windows on the computer screen (side-by-side) with two instances of Canvas - One with the quiz and one with the page.
Students will have the Immersive Reader - read from the PAGE and in the Quiz window provide an answer..
Rinse and repeat.
Immersive Reader working in Quizzes would be wonderful as many of these students already struggle with tracking, following directions, and multi-step directions.
This is an interesting question. There are some additional considerations that have to be made around data for a feature like this because it is 1. an accessibility feature and 2. may have additional limitations from Microsoft (since the feature is built in partnership with them.)
Definitely something worth looking into though!
If immersive reader is a no go for quizzes is instructure looking to creating their own native read-aloud option for assessments? This is not a matter or want or making it easier, legally some students HAVE to have the option to have the questions in recorded audio (I have seen it in IEP meetings). Other LMS have made it happen (Schoology for example).
@dlyons I like the planned rollout of Immersive reader to the production Canvas LMS. However, there is a lack of information about how to do many things to take advantage of this and also some errors. I am not easily able to find a source for what can be added to the HTML to enhance the user's experience. I do use lang attributes, but find that in some settings the language of the reading does not change - even when it did change with the same HTML earlier in the page. I also am surprised that markup such a <b> is not used to modulate the emphasis of the voice when the content is being read. (Also it seems that <strong> is not one of the elements supported by Immersive reader.) Some characters are simply skipped, such as … dashes, ... , curly braces, etc. with makes for difficulties with missing "dot, dot, dot" and hard to understand LaTeX expressions and some URLs. The MathML does not read the sqrt operator.
Missing is information about how to include HTML to do voice selection. RCE strips out the styles in for example <p style="voice-family: David, male;">.
Immersive reader does not seem to informer the listener of the headings, as NVDA and some other readers do. Nor does there seem to be an specially handling for aside elements (although at least RCE does not drop them). [ https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Canvas-Question-Forum/Replacing-slides-videos-captions-and-transc... ]
@maguire, Immersive Reader is not the same type of tool as NVDA/JAWS/VoiceOver so you're correct that it doesn't behave the same. It's actually kind of the opposite. From one of Microsoft's documents:
Immersive Reader [...] is a full screen reading experience to increase readability of content [... and] is designed to support students with dyslexia and dysgraphia in the classroom, but can support anyone who wants to make reading on their device easier.
Rather than trying to provide a representation of the content to someone with a visual disability (as you mentioned: reading out headers, emphasis, etc.) it is intentionally stripping many styles out to assist users with cognitive needs. Canvas supports users with visual needs through the technology those users use such as zoom, font settings, and screen readers.
Thanks @dlyons for your response. It helps clarify what Immersive Reader is trying to focus on but does not actually provide information as to what is supported.
Microsoft's own documentation for Immersive reader (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/applied-ai-services/immersive-reader/how-to-prepare-html ) shows <b>, <I>, <u>, <strike>, <code>, and <sub> & <sup> as Immersive Reader content. However, if these are being stripped out, then why mention having these elements? How will a teacher know what is supported and what is not supported, without trial and error? Note that I can fully understand that the fallback way of handling something is to ignore the markup, but I would expect that each of the characters would generate some output.
Similarly, Microsoft's documentation (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/applied-ai-services/immersive-reader/how-to/display-math ) describes Immersive Reader handling MathML. However, there is no documentation that I have found of how to make this work in Canvas. Note that outputting [LaTeX: xxxxx] is nice visually, but to not actually pronounce the symbols seems to be a disservice to the reader/listener.
Immersive Reader does let you choose the voice via the GUI and there is even a description at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/download-voices-for-immersive-reader-read-mode-and-read-al... of how to get more voices. However, there is no documentation that I have found of how to select the voice via HTML content within a Canvas page. (For example, to use different voices when there are multiple speakers with interleaved content - as in the case for the transcripts I have that include Question & Answer sessions with students and a teacher. I would like to be able to have the teacher using one voice and the questions from students in another voice.)
So better support for students with dyslexia and dysgraphia is wonderful, but there is a need for better documentation about what is supported and what is not supported so that teachers can prepare effective content.
I want to advocate for Immersive Reader in Discussions and Quizzes for our students with reading and print disabilities that have text to speech as an accommodation. I understand people's concern with test security, and I wondered if this feature (immersive reader) could be added to allow the instructor/teacher to turn it on for a group of students when the use is for formal assessments purposes.
It would be useful to have Immersive Reader as part of the Module Page especially if the teacher has set it as the home page and that's the pathway for the course navigation. Our students with reading difficulties would greatly appreciate it.
It's important that as developers and vendors we recognize how people need choices with how they interact with their technology. Universal Design for Learning means that we don't put artificial barriers in front of students. Learning to read and reading to learn are different, and I am hard pressed to think of a meaningful discussion or quiz that should not be equally open to people with dyslexia or other print disabilities. Please integrate text to speech site-wide.
@maguire, the tags Microsoft lists as supported in their documentation are supported in Canvas as well, as seen below. There is something off about the way MathML is being sent over; I've filed a bug to look into that.
Voice settings are a user setting, and there are no plans I know of at this time to support the content creator choosing the voice, or switching between multiple voices automatically.
@dlyons thanks for your reply. That MSIR renders visually the tags is not the issue, the problem is that it does not modify what audio is generated. There is no change in emphasis for strong, italics, or other - while I would expect a change in inflection with such an emphasis. I would think that c<sup>2</sup> would be read as c squared. Note there is not difference between voice when reading c<sup>2</sup> and H<sub>2</sub> - see https://canvas.kth.se/courses/11/pages/msir-test-page
On the other hand, I am pleased by the handling of the unicode in https://canvas.kth.se/courses/11/modules/items/389209
contrast CC in the last page with the distinctly cute Italian version of the page https://canvas.kth.se/courses/11/pages/cc
The lack of support for the choice of voices in the HTML reduces the audio distinction of two voices in a dialog. Note that there is a
property defined in https://www.w3.org/TR/css-speech-1/#voice-props-voice-family and this is supported by some systems such as ReadSpeaker. Perhaps MSIR will support this some day.
I think we need to clarify the differences between Immersive Reader and text to speech. Immersive Reader is just that, an immersive reading experience, with grammar tools, translation, dictionary, etc. It strips everything else from the page, including diagrams that might be critical to answering a quiz question.
What most of us would like is a simple text to speech option for quizzes. While there are external applications that can provide this service on tabs like the Modules list; that is not preferred when wanting students in a locked quiz mode. This situation would require a native to Canvas screen reader option.
Thank you for all your work on this project!
In the video from InstructureCon 2022 [https://www.instructure.com/canvas/resources/instructurecon-2022/canvas-lms-updates-for-higher-educa... at 4min 13sec, the presenter mentions that MS Immersive Reader is in more places in Canvas.
Is there a list of where MS Immersive Reader is, and is not, available within Canvas?
For example: Discussions, Pages, Quizzes, New Quizzes, Modules, Home pages, Inbox, Grades, 3rd Party Apps, Student App, Browsers, etc.
@tamara_becker, there is a list at the top of this blog post, and on the MSIR guide page. The places MSIR is available in Canvas as of this writing are: Pages, Assignments, Course Home, and the Syllabus.
I would like to have the immersive reader added to more of Canvas including the New Quizzes!
I would love to see Immersive Reader added to Announcements.
Will Immersive Reader ever be able to read embedded PDFs?
I wonder if allowing Canvas to process EL/IEP status (Ala Clever) would allow for a smoother inclusion of Immersive Reader availability in all Canvas content? If the student carries those designations, then the feature is automatically turned on. Otherwise, allowing the teacher to turn it on/off per whole quiz, at least, would be ideal.
Have there been any updated changes to the use of the immersive reader? Students that have a disability accommodation to have the immersive reader enabled within Canvas are not able to use the immersive reader on quizzes and exams (Honorlock) which prevents more positive outcomes for us.
Thank you for your previous explanation. I feel if there has been a change or update at least the students that are struggling with this issue should be notified of any.
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