Screen Reader/Text to Speech

Overview

Text to Speech softwares take visual words and read them aloud to the reader. Recently TTS has become somewhat ubiquitous, increasing prevalent on both android and apple devices (Csapo, 2015). However, research to date has shown inconsistent findings of the effectiveness of TTS with regards to passage comprehension (Strangman & Dalton, 2006). Schmidt (2011) found that listening while reading did not result in improved total reading comprehension over a silent reading condition.Furthermore Meyer (2014) found no significant increases in reading fluency, text comprehension, and time to complete the readings. However, White (2014) offered Students with dyslexia training in TTS software in a small-group withdrawal setting for six weeks, and saw improvements in motivation to read more, improved comprehension, and improved fluency on assessments. Forgrave (2002) also found that TTS was effective and perceived favourably by those who used it, especially in students grade 6-8. Research is clearly mixed and need future clarification.

Screen readers can be thought of as an extension of TTS software. Screen readers are essentially software programs that read the text on the screen, while also offering other functions such as announcing to the user the location of the cursor on the screen, helping the user navigate the screen with their cursor, or announce the location of various items on the screen.The user activates different features or commands though pressing different key combinations (Hot Keys), Braille display, voice recognition, or mouse. The interpretation of the screen is then re-presented to a text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device. The most common screen readers output the text in a text-to-speech format. Many common operating systems today have built in screen reading features.Screen readers are often grouped with TTS software’s in research as they are both essentially auditory translations of visual stimulus.

Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable 

Advantages:

  • Can be used for those users who are more profoundly farsighted

  • Can assist writers in editing and proofreading texts

Disadvantages:

  • None

To Consider

  • Find the right voice. Having a high quality TTS voice will improve comprehension (Cunningham, 2011). http://www.acapela-group.com

  • Control the speed at which the voice presents the text. Having the computer present between 140 and 180 words per minute is an optimal speed (Cunningham, 2003, Cunningham, 2011).

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250

References

Csapó, Á., Wersényi, G., Nagy, H., & Stockman, T. (2015). A survey of assistive technologies and applications for blind users on mobile platforms: a review and foundation for research. Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces, 9(4), 275-286.

Draffan, E. A., Evans, D. G., & Blenkhorn, P. (2007). Use of assistive technology by students with dyslexia in post-secondary education. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2(2), 105-116.

Forgrave, K. E. (2002). Assistive technology: Empowering students with learning disabilities. The Clearing House, 75(3), 122-126.

Meyer, N. K., & Bouck, E. C. (2014). The impact of text-to-speech on expository reading for adolescents with LD. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1), 21-33.

Written by Harrison McNaughtan, Last Revision May 2018

Schmitt, A. J., Hale, A. D., McCallum, E., & Mauck, B. (2011). Accommodating remedial readers in the general education setting: Is listening‐while‐reading sufficient to improve factual and inferential comprehension?. Psychology in the Schools, 48(1), 37-45.

White, D. H., & Robertson, L. (2015). Implementing assistive technologies: A study on co-learning in the Canadian elementary school context. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 1268-1275.

Montali, J., & Lewandowski, L. (1996). Bimodal reading: Benefits of a talking computer for average and less skilled readers. Journal of learning disabilities, 29(3), 271-279.

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Academic Intervention Lab

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6, Canada
     Email: academicinterventionlab@utoronto.ca

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