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Text to Speech to Support Reading Difficulties

by Shirley Lawson

on Thu Feb 03, 2022

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Many pupils with reading difficulties continue to be provided with paper-based resources in the form of books, worksheets and printed materials.  These print-disabled pupils are at a disadvantage now because they are not able to access the information on the paper in the same way their peers who have no reading difficulty.

If the same information can be provided digitally and the pupil has an available computer, tablet or phone then they can use a Text to Speech reader to read the text out loud.

This is not a new thing but we find that it is not as widely known about as we hoped and also not used as often as it should be.

There are so many choices of applications that provided Text to Speech as well as built in functionality of the device.  Natural Reader 16 is a free Text to Speech reader which can be installed on your Windows PC or laptop and it can read out highlighted text from Microsoft Word, PDFs including digital exam papers, webpages and emails. And you can use the excellent Scottish voices which is a feature we have yet to see on other text readers such as Immersive Reader. (See Twitter thread: #ImmersiveReaderSpeakScottish)

Have a look at this short video to see Natural Reader in action.

Here are a selection of class activities that will now be much easier for a pupil with reading difficulties when they use Natural Reader 16:

  • Finding out information from a webpage
  • Reviewing their own typed work and self-identifying errors
  • Understanding the assignment posted on MS Teams or Google Classroom
  • Independently accessing questions in a digital assessment
  • Sharing information with family from class blog on school website

Having Text to Speech software (or an app) available on school devices is part of Scottish Government Guidance on meeting legal requirements for computer accessibility.

For the full list of legal requirements, have a look at our free to download Computer accessibility poster.

Check today what is available on the devices you have in school and at home and encourage all your learners who are struggling with reading to use it.

C-Pen reader image

You could use a Reader Pen to have text spoken out loud from paper or a free OCR scanning app such as Microsoft Lens or Seeing AI.

 

Tags: text to speech, naturalreader

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