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What is a Text To Speech.
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Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of speech synthesis application that is used to create a spoken sound version of the text in a computer document, such as a help file or a Web page. TTS can enable the reading of computer display information for the visually challenged person, or may simply be used to augment the reading of a text message. Current TTS applications include voice-enabled e-mail and spoken prompts in voice response systems. TTS is often used with voice recognition programs. There are numerous TTS products available, including Read Please 2000, Proverbe Speech Unit, and Next Up Technology’s TextAloud. Lucent, Elan, and AT&T each have products called “Text-to-Speech.”.The Best Text To Speech Software Review
In addition to TTS software, a number of vendors offer products involving hardware, including the Quick Link Pen from WizCom Technologies, a pen-shaped device that can scan and read words; the Road Runner from Ostrich Software, a handheld device that reads ASCII text; and DecTalk TTS from Digital Equipment, an external hardware device that substitutes for a sound card and which includes an internal software device that works in conjunction with the PC’s own sound card.
As school students, approaches and parents 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.
What the research says about text-to-speech.
Despite the growing popularity, the research on text to speech is somewhat unclear.
While this technology allows students to access the classroom material, some researchers have found mixed results on how well students are able to comprehend the text being read to them (Dalton & Strangman, 2006). Another team of researchers found that text-to-speech technologies did not impact adolescent students ability to comprehend the reading, however the students did report that they value the increased independence that the TTS software gave them (Meyer, 2014).
One study found that students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia did benefit from the use of TTS software. This team offered students training in TTS software in a small-group format for six weeks, and saw improvements in motivation to read, improved comprehension, and improved fluency (White, 2014). Positive results were found in another study in which TTS was found to be effective in allowing students to access the reading material and was also perceived favourably by the students who used it, especially students in grades 6-8.
Getting the most out of text-to-speech.
While the research is clearly mixed, there are some ways to ensure that TTS will work for your students. One such consideration would be to ensure that students find the right TTS voice. Having a high quality TTS voice that sounds similar to a human voice will improve reading comprehension; the less robotic, the better (Cunningham, 2011). To preview different TTS voices and help figure out which one is most prefered by your student, visit the Acapela Group website to listen to options.
Another major consideration is the speed at which the computer presents the text. Many students will set the voice to very high speeds to get the readings done as quick as possible, however it has been shown that having the computer present the words at a rate between 140-180 words per minute is an optimal speed for students (Cunningham, 2003, Cunningham, 2011). When selecting a text-to-speech program, you should select one that has a bi-modal reading setting. Bi-modal reading is when the computer highlights the presented word as it is presented out loud (Montali & Lewandowski, 1996). Presenting the words visually and auditorily helps the student focus on the reading task and encourages deeper comprehension.
When using a TTS program, only select a small amount of text at any one time. If a student selects too much text at one time they may lose focus mid-stream which will negatively impact comprehension..
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. ReadSpeaker comes in a variety of packages to accommodate for individual, student, business, and classroom needs.
Benefits Of Text To Speech
Extend the reach of your content — TTS gives access to your content to a greater population, such as those with literacy difficulties, learning disabilities, reduced vision and those learning a language. It also opens doors to anyone else looking for easier ways to access digital content.
Accessibility is relevant — Did you know that 15-20 percent of the worldwide population has some form of language-based learning disability? Did you know that 14 percent of adults in the US are illiterate and many have only basic reading skills? Making your online content audible helps the online population to better understand the text. The text is read and highlighted simultaneously so that the reader may easily follow along.
Populations are evolving — 244 million people are foreign born across the globe (an increase of 70 million since 2000). Language proficiency and schooling in the host country’s language is a very real problem for migrants and their families.
A growing elderly population depends on technology — Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 years or over will grow by 56 percent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion (Source: www.un.org). In the US alone, 59% of senior citizens use the Internet daily. Making digital content on the Internet accessible in multiple forms creates an easier user experience.
People are increasingly mobile and looking for convenience — In the US, a growing share of time spent on digital content is on mobile devices and the demand for connected devices continues to rise on a worldwide scale. Text to speech can turn any digital content into a multimedia experience and people can listen to a news or blog article, a PDF document, or an e-book on the go!
People with different learning styles — Some people are auditory learners, some are visual learners, and some are kinesthetic learners– most learn best through a combination of the three. Universal Design for Learning is a plan for teaching which, through the use of technology and adaptable lesson plans, aims to help the maximum number of learners comprehend and retain information by appealing to all learning styles.
Enhanced customer experience — Speech-enabling pre- and after-sales service minimizes human agent workload, provides personalized services, accelerates throughput, and reduces operational costs.
Effective branding across touchpoints — A single TTS voice across multiple contact points supports consistent, emotional branding.
Global market penetration — clear, lifelike, and customizable TTS voices from around the world extend the reach of your business.
Optimized development and maintenance — Robust TTS technology that supports the most widespread platforms, is available both in the cloud and on premises, and is scalable according to actual business needs, saves development and maintenance efforts.
More autonomy for the digital content owner — Many think that text-to-speech software is something to be downloaded manually. It can be, but there are cloud-based forms, or Software as a Service (SaaS). With a few simple lines of code, the audio is generated instantly and for new or updated content, the spoken version is updated automatically.
Increased web presence — Websites with TTS technology attract some of the 774 million people worldwide with literacy issues and the 285 million people with visual impairments. Speech enabling web content does not interfere with usability for those without disabilities. It actually aids all other populations, including older users and foreign/non-native speakers.
Saved time and money — With TTS technology that is web- or cloud-based on a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, online content can quickly and easily be speech enabled, and maintenance is minimal.
Easier implementation with Internet of Things (IoT) — The IoT is becoming a critical factor in digital business transformation. Companies across all verticals have digital marketing strategies in place and focus on engaging customers across various connected channels to optimize how they interact with them. TTS gives connected devices in the IoT a more user-friendly way to communicate with consumers.
Word-of-mouth marketing — Adding an alternative way to consume content online enhances the user experience. Visitors are far more likely to return to and recommend websites where they have had positive experiences. And even in our age of social media marketing, word of mouth is still the most important platform, according to Forbes.
Enhanced employee performance with corporate learning programs — With TTS technology, HR departments and e-learning professionals can make learning modules and employee training much easier for employees to learn anywhere and at anytime.
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#1 Recommended Text To Speech Software
Types of Text-to-Speech Tools.
Depending on the device your child uses, there are many different TTS tools:.
Built-in text-to-speech: Many devices have built-in TTS tools. This includes desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and digital tablets and Chrome. Your child can use this TTS without purchasing special apps or software.
Web-based tools: Some websites have TTS tools on-site. For instance, you can turn on our website’s “Reading Assist” tool, located in the lower left corner of your screen, to have this webpage read aloud. Also, kids with dyslexia may qualify for a free Bookshare account with digital books that can be read with TTS. (Bookshare is a program of Understood founding partner Benetech.) There are also free TTS tools available online.
Text-to-speech apps: Kids can also download TTS apps on smartphones and digital tablets. These apps often have special features like text highlighting in different colors and OCR. Some examples include Voice Dream Reader, Claro ScanPen and Office Lens.
Chrome tools: Chrome is a relatively new platform with several TTS tools. These include Read & Write for Google Chrome and Read & snap Universal. You can use these tools on a Chromebook or any computer with the Chrome browser. See more Chrome tools to help with reading.
In addition to other reading and writing tools, many of these programs have TTS. Examples include Kurzweil 3000, ClaroRead and Read & Write. See more examples of software for kids with reading issues.
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. 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.
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.
There are numerous TTS products available, including Read Please 2000, Proverbe Speech Unit, and Next Up Technology’s TextAloud. One such consideration would be to ensure that students find the right TTS voice. Having a high quality TTS voice that sounds similar to a human voice will improve reading comprehension; the less robotic, the better (Cunningham, 2011). Your child can use this TTS without purchasing special apps or software.Speechelo – Human sounding voices Integrated inside there audios.
In addition to other reading and writing tools, many of these programs have TTS.