Text to Speech

Overview 

     Text-to-Speech (TTS) is a computer software that presents text auditorally. TTS is thought to circumvent the need to decode words by presenting them auditorally.  Most programs highlight text as it is being read out loud, thus allowing students to follow along. Depending on the specific program, there can also be an embedded dictionary that allows students to click on unfamiliar words and see the definition. Some softwares are also able to recognize and read scanned pages from a book. Other softwares have the ability to split the words into syllables and highlight specific parts of the speech when reading out the text. Using the software is quite easy, as the user simply has to highlight a section they want to read and then select ‘read’.

 

     There has been conflicting research on the benefits of TTS. For instance, Schmitt (2011) found that listening to text while reading it did not improve total reading comprehension compared to a silent reading condition. Furthermore, Meyer (2014) found no significant improvement in reading fluency, text comprehension, and time taken to complete the readings. 

 

     However, there have been more recent studies that provide strong evidence for the benefits of TTS. When 164 students in grade nine with reading disabilities used a TTS software for ten weeks, they showed significant improvements in reading comprehension and vocabulary, not only while using TTS, but also when reading from paper (Park et al, 2017). White (2014) observed increased motivation to read, improved reading comprehension and improved fluency on assessments when a group of students with dyslexia used a TTS software in a small-group setting for six weeks. Additionally, when a group of students in Taiwan used TTS to learn a list of words for a spelling bee, they were able to memorize approximately twelve more words using TTS; thus suggesting that TTS helps increase vocabulary for students that are learning English as a second language (Huang and Liao, 2015). Combined, these studies suggest that while text-to-speech may not have significant impacts for fluent readers, it can be very useful for users with deficits in decoding or reading fluency. 

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.

Huang, Y. C., Lioa, L. C. A Study of Text-to-Speech (TTS) in Children’s English Learning. Teaching English with Technology. 1, 14-30.

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.

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.

Park, H. J., Takahashi, K., Roberts, K.D., Delise, R., Delise, Danielle. (2017). Effects of text-to-speech software use on the reading proficiency of high school struggling readers. Assistive Technology. 29(3), 146-152.

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. 

Written by Harrison McNaughtan and Rudra Patel, Last Revision March 2019

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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