You are in:

Using Text to Speech Utilities to Read Web Pages

by Allan Wilson

on Fri Jul 24, 2009

Share this blog

Share on:

  • Twitter share
  • Facebook share
  • linkedin share
  • Google+ share

At present there are:

Since you're here...

training course

CALL Scotland course,
University of Edinburgh
6th September, 2018

Creating an inclusive learning environment using assistive technology

training courseNewsletter

Get news, articles, advice and tips.

Sign me up!

CALL frequently receives enquiries from people seeking advice on utilities that can be used to read text from web pages. Teachers and parents may be using WordTalk to read Word documents and are now looking for something similar to read web pages.

Earlier this year CALL carried out a detailed comparison of over twenty utilities that can be used to add speech output to web pages. A report on the results, Reading the Web, can be downloaded from the CALL web site. We looked at a range of options from free utilities, to the use of comprehensive literacy support packages which included the ability to read web pages among a wide range of features. Many schools may already have a package like TextHelp, or Penfriend, both of which can be used to add text-to-speech facilities to the web, but for parents, or people staring from scratch, we recommended the free CliCkSpeak add-on for the Firefox web browser. At the time, we could not wholeheartedly recommend any single option for Internet Explorer, though Balabolka, NaturalReader and Ultra Hal were all worth considering as free options. TextAloud was a good choice for those with a small budget.

Read on Web's ClearPage

ClearPage is a new option for adding text-to-speech to Internet Explorer. When you install this free utility to a PC (there isn't a Mac version, unfortunately) a new toolbar is added to Internet Explorer, which allows you to create an 'uncluttered' version of the original web page, stripped of graphics and unnecessary text. The uncluttered version can be presented in your preferred font, text and background colours for easy reading, and can also be transferred to a text-to-speech window. This may sound complicated, but it is actually very easy - it is possible to go straight from the original web page to hearing the text-to-speech version with a single keystroke.

Unfortunately the text and background colours in the text-to-speech window cannot be changed from the standard black and white so people with different colour preferences are not able to change to suit their needs. There are also issues with the way in which text is selected and read - if you try to read a single word, the word will be read, but it will carry on reading the following text.

ClearPage is not particularly helpful if you need to see the text in the context of graphical material, or if you only want to read a small portion of the text on a web page, but, despite these reservations, it is definitely a useful utility that is worth considering for getting text-to-speech from Internet Explorer.

A typical web page seen in a standard browser.

Webpage with text, images and formatting.

The same page in ClearPage's 'uncluttered' view.

Webpage with titles and text only.

The same page in ClearPage's text to speech reader.

Text only and showing text-to-speech reader toolbar with volume, voice selection, and audio controls.

Tags: text-to-speech, accessible websites, audio

Share this blog

Share on:

  • Twitter share
  • Facebook share
  • linkedin share
  • Google+ share

At present there are:

Conversations