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A 'text-to-speech' program or 'text reader' on your computer or tablet reads text from a document or web page to you using a computer voice.

A text reader can read:

  • Text on the Internet, emails, and instant messages;
  • Digital SQA exams and assessments;
  • Difficult words, sentences or whole paragraphs of text;
  • Books, documents, and homework on your computer;
  • Scanned or photographed paper materials;

Why use a text reader?

Text-to-speech may help if you:

  • read slowly or with difficulty;
  • get tired, or have visual stress when you read;
  • have problems concentrating when you read;
  • have difficulty following the text with your eyes;
  • want to listen to the text being read out while you do something else.

A text reader can also help you with your writing. You can:

  • proof read your own writing;
  • spot mis-spelled words;
  • read your text back to improve sentence structure, sense and meaning.

What are the requirements?

You need a computer or other device such as a: 

Windows laptop or PC;

Mac laptop or computer;

iPad or iPhone;

Android tablet or phone.

Your device will need both the text-to-speech software (or an app) and a computer voice. All these devices have text readers and voices already built-in to them. However, you can also download and buy better software and voices from various suppliers.

There are high quality Scottish computer voices available free to schools, pupils, students and public sector organisations in Scotland.

How does a text reader work?

  1. The text reader sends text from the document or web page to the computer voice;
  2. The text is converted to speech by the computer voice;
  3. The audio is read aloud.

What can I read with a text reader?

  • Documents and books
    All text readers can read a Word document or a PDF document with text. Typically, you Highlight the text you want it to speak, and press the Play button
  • Web pages and emails
    A text reader can be used to read text on web pages as well as emails.
  • Exams and assessments
    If you have difficulty with paper based exam materials, you can ask to use Digital Exams instead. These are replacing the reader and scribe system. The digital paper is on-screen, and you can use a text reader to read it out loud.

Can I have paper documents and pages read back to me?

Yes, text recognition software (OCR programs), recognise text from scanned documents or photographs and then you can read back to you on your computer device.

To do this:

  1. Scan a paper document or page from a book with a computer scanner, or take a photo of it.
  2. Convert the image into text using an OCR program on your computer or tablet.
  3. Then, have it read it out aloud using a text reader.


For more detailed information and instructions, see our 'scan and OCR' page on the Books for All website.

Where can I get a text reader?

There are many text readers on the market. The free readers such as Ivona MiniReader, NaturalReader, WordTalk or Orato are simple and easy to use, and if you just want to read text, are often all that you need. The commercial packages such as ClaroRead, Read&Write and Penfriend have extra features to support reading and writing. In most cases you can download a demo to try them out.





iPad or iPhone (iOS)