There are a number of software programs available which can be used to convert text on the computer screen into speech, thus allowing the user to listen to print information. Examples include:
- NaturalReader Alive
- Read & Write Gold
- Narrator (included with Windows XP)
- Universal Reader, PDF Equalizer both from Premier Assistive Technology
Cost varies, and several of the programs have a basic version that is free which can be downloaded from the Internet.
Some of the programs provide the option to purchase additional voices with varying qualities of voice and natural sound. The following website offers demos of numerous voices from several different companies: http://nextup.com/TextAloud/SpeechEngine/voices.html
A free version of ReadPlease available to download from the Internet provides a good example of text-to-speech technology. Instructions for installation and use are included below.
Scanning: Converting from print to digital form
If the text you want to read is on a printed page, it must be changed to an electronic form by scanning. The scan needs to use a process called optical character recognition (OCR) which allows the computer to recognize the print as words rather than as a picture. Software which can scan print and convert it to speech include:
- Kurzweil WYNN
- Scan and Read from Premier Assistive Technology
Readplease 2003 Installation
Go to www.readplease.com
- On the left side of the screen click Downloads
- Click on the Disc icon ReadPlease 2003/ReadPlease Plus 2003 and follow the directions to install the program.
ReadPlease 2003 is the free version.
How to use this program with CDs of your textbooks…
- Place the CD of your textbook in the correct computer drive and open it.
- Choose the file or chapter that you would like to read.
- Click on EDIT, then Select All
- Choose Copy from the EDIT menu
- Close the file
- Open ReadPlease 2003
- Click EDIT, then Clear All
- Click in the blank area and choose Paste from the EDIT menu
- Click Play on the ReadPlease program (make sure the cursor in the box with the text is at the beginning of the text)
There are four voices to choose from. You can adjust the speed and volume of the voice.
It is helpful to have a copy of the actual textbook at hand to follow along as the computer “reads” since the production of the CD occasionally reorganizes things. The book will help you keep track of where you are in the text.