As school approaches, parents and students alike should be aware of the resources available to them as they prepare to tackle a new grade, new year, and new learning challenges. Text-to-speech software is often a vital resource for students with dyslexia—to aid reading, promote comprehension, and enhance overall literacy skills. Here are 10 helpful text-to-speech software and applications that are great assistive technology tools to have at the start of the school year.
For reading on your desktop computer or laptop
NaturalReader, self-proclaimed as the most powerful text-to-speech reader, can turn PDFs, web pages, e-books, and even printed material into spoken word. Available for both Mac and PCs, this software can convert and save any text-filled document into an audio file. Audio features such as speed and voice are adjustable, and once an audio file is saved it can be transferred to other devices, such as a cell phone, so the user has the file wherever he or she goes.
TalkButton, available for Macs and Microsoft Word, is text-to-speech software that can be controlled through a toolbar at the top of the computer screen. Text that is read out loud can be adjusted to slow down, speed up, paused, or replayed back a few seconds with the help of the accessibility toolbar. Audio files created from the text-to-speech software can be saved and downloaded to iTunes.
Browsealoud is a web page navigation software available for most versions of Windows that is designed to help those with dyslexia and second-language learners browse the internet. The software strips the web page down to its essential text so the user can focus on the text alone. Its text-to-speech feature also comes with a magnifying glass icon that follows the text as it is read aloud.
ReadSpeaker is a screen reader software for Mac or PC that allows documents, web pages, and e-books to be read aloud. The resource is entirely web-based, so users can access it from any internet-connected computer with their log-in information. Saved documents and images can be made accessible on any device, though. ReadSpeaker comes in a variety of packages to accommodate for individual, business, classroom, and student needs.
For reading on your tablet or phone
Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech assistive application for both Apple and Android devices that converts PDFs, web pages, Microsoft Word, and other document formats into spoken word, while also offering additional features such as bookmarking, note-taking, and a built-in dictionary.
KNFB Reader is a text-to-speech application that works solely off of pictures. Though originally designed with the purpose of aiding the visually impaired and blind, this program’s text-to-speech technology extracts the words found in an image and converts it to speech. Users can take pictures right from the app or use saved images from their device.
CapturaTalk offers text-to-speech assistance alongside many other reading and writing resources, making it a useful resource for tasks that require both reading, writing, and research. The app’s web browser removes ads and rearranges a site’s formatting to present the user with a decluttered and simple text page. The application also has a dyslexia friendly font that can be turned on or off. You can find this app at the AppStore and Google Play store.
Web Reader is an application for phone and tablet that offers text-to-speech assistance for online news sites, articles, and PDFs. This application lets you cut, copy, and paste content and arrange it into pages and sync content to programs like Dropbox. The app can navigate news websites, and lets the user switch and browse articles while having one article continuously read out loud to them.
Read&Write, created by the same company as Browsealoud, is available for tablet and Chrome browsers. This application has both text-to-speech and “Speak As I Type” abilities. Its alternative keyboard and features help users read and write common tablet tasks such as emailing, typing, and reading.
Clarospeak, a text-to-speech application for iPhone and Chrome browsers, offers a variety of text and format options. The user can copy and paste imported documents and web pages into Clarospeak to be read, and can also perform the reverse—write something in Clarospeak, have it read back to check for errors, and then export to files or an open browser.