Text-to-speech software and application systems are priceless to many people with various disabilities. Text-to-speech transforms any text into speech in real time. It uses speech synthesis to create the artificial production of human speech. An internal computer will look at the text on a device screen and use speech synthesis technology to figure out how to pronounce the word and will “speak it” to the user.
This technology is a great tool for people with visual impairments or reading disabilities. People who are blind or have no functional vision or very low vision can use a screen reader such as text-to-speech to access a computer. This would allow someone with a visual impairment the ability to email, browse the web, and use word processing software, et cetera. Text-to-speech is also helpful for people who struggle with reading. For those who have reading difficulty, such as a person with Dyslexia, many are unable to access text information in a written form. When the information is read aloud to them they are able to comprehend the information. Speech synthesis can also help pre-literate young children and those for who English is not their first language.
Text-to-speech has in the past had a robotic computer voice. TSS has improved the quality of voices over the years. They have gone from a robotic computer voice to sounding more like a real person’s voice. This makes the speech easier to understand for the user.
The National Center on Universal Design for Learning is a task force dedicated to giving all individuals equal opportunities to learn. Through that task force the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) offers an open source website with free resource tools designed for learning. The UDL has compiled a list of many of the free TSS options on the Free Technology Toolkit for UDL in All Classrooms site. To view the TSS list they have compiled click here.
To learn more about the Free Technology Toolkit for UDL visit their teaching every student blog.