by Craig Mill
on Wed Jan 11, 2017
ATbar is a new text-to-speech program for Windows. ATbar is free and works with the Scottish voices. A benefit of ATbar is that it does not need to be installed and can be run from a USB stick/drive, providing a portable text reader.
ATbar has a clean, minimal interface with a Windows 10 look and feel, making it very user-friendly.
ATbar has the following features:
1. Text to speech
ATbar reads aloud highlighted or selected text that is copied to the clipboard, e.g. choose the text to be read aloud, then either press the keyboard keys 'Ctrl + C' (to copy the text) or 'right click' and choose ‘Copy’ from the drop down menu. Finally press the ‘Speaker’ icon on ATbar and the text is spoken aloud.
2. Display Reading Window
There is an option to ‘Display a reading window’ which you can customise to provide additional reading support, such as font style, font and background colour and a highlight colour.
The image below illustrates an example of a PDF book from the Books for All database being read with the ‘reading window’ selected. The highlight can be set to highlight each ‘Word’ or ‘Sentence’ as it is spoken to help with visual tracking.
3. Clear the text
Some text-to-speech programs, particularly free ones, can sometimes hold text in its ‘speech buffer’ meaning that it repeats the previously spoken text, instead of the current text. ATbar overcomes this issue by providing a ‘Bin’ button which clears text in the buffer or speech window, ensuring there is no repetition and thereby avoiding any confusion to what is being read.
4. Choosing a voice
You can also choose a voice for text-to-speech, e.g. one of the Scottish voices by:
- selecting the ‘Settings’ button (cogwheel icon) on far right side of ATbar.
- clicking the ‘Voice’ tab and choose a voice from the drop-down menu. The selection of voices will depend on what is installed on your computer. Remember to click the 'Save' button.
5. Colour overlay
ATbar also includes a screen overlay or tint with options to set different colours and transparency. The overlay/tint covers the whole screen.
STEMReader is an accessible program for reading aloud maths equations and symbols. STEMReader requires an additional download and an internet connection to convert the maths symbols/equations to readable text.
Download ATbar for Windows
The Windows version of ATbar is available to download for free from ATbar website.
ATbar can also be used on a range of internet browsers, adding additional functionality and support such as text-to-speech, dictionary, magnification to support reading.
ATbar has been developed by the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, at the University of Southampton, who provide help and support if required.