Text to Speech Tools

The district uses a variety of text to speech tools.  Text to speech tools are tools, often software installed on a computer, that use a computer voice to read aloud text from the computer screen.  Text to speech tools vary in complexity and additional features, including highlighting, note taking, scanning ability, etc...  Below, you'll find details on the most common text to speech tools used in our district.  Additional training materials, including handouts and videos, can be found on this page of the Technology Training Website.

 
 

Mac OS Built-in Text to Speech:

  • What it is: This is the built-in accessibility feature of the Mac operating system. 
  • Where to find it:  You can find these settings by clicking on the apple, then going to "system preferences", then going to "speech" settings.  Within here, you will find "text to speech" settings. 
  • Positive features about this tool:  This is built-in to the operating system of all Macs and will read any text on the computer screen.  You can access it right away when you take a computer out of the box.  No installations are necessary. 
  • Drawbacks about this tool: It does not highlight the words as it reads and has not additional built-in study tools. 
  • Click here to go to the Apple website for more information about this tool
  • For more information about using the built-in text to speech tool, go to the Technology Training page on Mac Operating System Accessibility.  This page has basic information, handouts, and videos. 

 

Microsoft Word "Speech" Toolbar:

  • What it is: This is a toolbar, called the "speech" toolbar, that provides quick and easy access to the built-in text to speech tool of the Mac operating system. 
  • Where to find it:  You can find this toolbar, within Microsoft Word, within the "view" menu, under "toolbars".  The speech toolbar is a toolbar with only one button... the "speak" button!
  • Positive features about this tool:  This is tool is very easy to use.  It runs without bugs or glitches. 
  • Drawbacks about this tool: It only reads text within Microsoft Word and does not highlight the text as it reads.
  • For more information about using the speech toolbar in Microsoft Word, go to the Technology Training page on Microsoft Word Accessibility for Reading.  This page has basic information, handouts, and videos. 
 

Natural Reader:

  • What it is: This is a free, basic text to speech software that can be downloaded from this website:  http://www.naturalreaders.com/download.htm  
  • Where to find it: If you have this application on your computer, you will find it in the "Applications" folder.  If you don't have this application, but are interested in taking a look at it, email the assistive technology specialist (at rkuberry@sch.ci.lexington.ma.us).
  • Positive features about this tool:  This is tool is very easy to use.  Its free.  It runs on a Mac or PC and looks very similar on either platform.  It also highlights as it reads.  Very good for a free tool!
  • Drawbacks about this tool: The voices don't sound the greatest...
  • Click here to download the "How-to" handout 

 

Read:OutLoud, Bookshare edition:

  • What it is: This is a mid-level text to speech software that can be downloaded from this website: http://www.bookshare.org/readingTools.  This can be downloaded for free for students that qualify for Bookshare.  This text to speech tool has an easy to use, customizable toolbar and built-in study tools.  
  • Where to find it: If you have this application on your computer, you will find it in the "Applications" folder.  If you don't have this application, but are interested in taking a look at it, email the assistive technology specialist (at rkuberry@sch.ci.lexington.ma.us).
  • Positive features about this tool:  It runs on a Mac or PC and looks very similar on either platform.  It highlights as it reads and has built-in study tools such as highlighting and note taking.
  • Drawbacks about this tool: Since this is designed to access Bookshare books, you really can't use it to read other files.  
  • For more information about this tool, go to the Technology Training page on Read:OutLoud Bookshare Edition.  This page has basic information, handouts, and videos. 

 

Kurzweil 3000

  • What it is: This is a sophisticated text to speech software that allows for scanning, note taking, highlighting, and more!
  • Where to find it: If you have this application on your computer, you will find it in the "Applications" folder.  If you don't have this application, but are interested in taking a look at it, email the assistive technology specialist (at rkuberry@sch.ci.lexington.ma.us).
  • Positive features about this tool:  This software can do almost anything you would want a text to speech tool to do.  It can scan/convert locked PDFs, it has a variety of built-in study tools, it allows you to customize the voice and the pace of the voice, it highlights as you read, and more!!
  • Drawbacks about this tool: The voices really are quite poor.  Additionally, this software often freezes or spontaneously quits.  Finally, this software looks very different on a Mac or a PC. 
  • Click here to go to the Kurzweil website to view their training videos
  • Click here to download the Kurzweil brief overview handout
 
CLOSE