Strategy

Text-to-Speech

UDL 1.3 UDL 4.2 UDL 5.1

Text-to-Speech is a commonly used application on a computer that reads typed content aloud as it would be read naturally by a human (i.e., reading with inflection for punctuation, reading words exactly as they are spelled). Have the entire class listen to written content aloud together or have individual students use Text-to-Speech applications during independent reading activities. While Text-to-Speech is often used to overcome barriers with respect to reading fluency and comprehension, it is also a highly effective proof-reading tool. Because many students with barriers related to reading and writing have underlying issues with visual perceptual or eye-movement (i.e., ocular motor) control, taking the visual challenge out of reading supports the student in focusing on target skills and increases the amount of time the student will be able to persist on a task involving reading.

Implementation Tips

Output Voice
Choose the output voice that the student can clearly understand. Have the student listen to different variations and select the settings that most meet their needs. Text-to-Speech applications may include gender, dialect, and speed. Additionally, for teachers of bilingual classrooms, Text-to-Speech applications can be changed to support many languages other than English.
Headphones
Provide headphones for students when using text-to-speech and other voice output applications for independent reading tasks. Headphones are useful for reducing any distraction to other students and to help the target student focus their attention.
Increasing Accessibility
Enable Text-to-Speech on computers for students with visual impairments. Because Text-to-Speech programs can be used on any digital text (e.g., File Names, Browser Tabs, Dropdown Menus), not just digital literature and informational text (e.g., novels, Microsoft Word, PDFs), students who would typically need support from a peer or an adult to use a computer or tablet are able to work independently.
Additional Features
Activate other features of Text-to-Speech programs that meet the needs of particular students. Features may include highlighting each word or a full line as it is being read, blurring out lines or paragraphs not being read, stopping and repeating a word the student wants to hear again, using a built in dictionary that students can access as they are using the program. Some of these are only available in more specialized Text-to-Speech applications, can be added as an extension to online browsers (e.g., Chrome, Safari).
Enabling Text-to-Speech on Electronic Devices
Check out these free extensions for various browsers and devices:
Chrome: [[https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readwrite-for-google-chro/inoeonmfapjbbkmdafoankkfajkcphgd?hl=en-US|Read&Write for Google]]
Firefox: [[https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/text-to-voice/|Text-to-Voice]]
Safari: [[http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/make-safari-read-web-page|Text-to-Speech]]
iPhone/iPads: [[http://osxdaily.com/2012/05/30/text-to-speech-iphone-ipad/|Text-to-Speech]]
Android: [[https://support.google.com/accessibility/android/answer/6283677?hl=en&ref_topic=3529932|TalkBack]]
Kindle Readers: [[http://techin.oureverydaylife.com/turn-text-speech-kindle-10760.html|Text-to-Speech]]

Examples

Listening to Digital Texts
For example [[https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readwrite-for-google-chro/inoeonmfapjbbkmdafoankkfajkcphgd?hl=en-US|Read&Write for Google]] can read text from online sources, making the content available to readers of all abilities for research projects or assigned subject specific reading (e.g. current events for social studies or science). Teachers can have digital text read aloud to the whole class, small groups or individual students.
Proofreading
Many mistakes are easier to hear than see when proofreading, such as a deleted silent e, transposed letters, omitted space or punctuation errors. Students who struggle with visual attention, visual scanning, spelling and mechanics of writing can use Text-to-Speech routinely to listen to their written work with headphones during independent work time or for homework. When things don’t sound right, they can go back in and make corrections. Offer adult support or pair up students with peer buddies at first, and monitor their progress toward self-sufficiency with the technology and the proofreading process.
Communication
Text-to-Speech can be used an effective communication tool for students who experience barriers related to expressive language (e.g. stutter, selective mutism, processing disorders). For example, provide students with tablets or a laptop with speakers. The student can type their response into a word processing platform (e.g. Microsoft Word) or a free online resource such as [[http://ttsreader.com/|Text-to-Speech Reader]]. The student can then follow the typical classroom expectations for responding to questions or participating in discussions and rather than vocalize their responses, the student can play their typed responses aloud. Doing so not only provides the student with additional time to process their thoughts but will increase participation and engagement in classroom discussions.

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