If your child has trouble reading, or reads too slowly, she might benefit from text-to-speech software. Text-speech-software takes any text in digital format (such as on the Internet or in a word processor) and reads it aloud. This can be helpful in a variety of situations.
You can download several text-to-speech software programs for free. I have used Natural Reader for several years. You can get the free version or purchase a version that has several pleasant voices from which you can choose. Other free text-to-speech readers are reviewed at DKSZone.
Here is what you can do with text-to-speech software:
- Have it to read to you. Most text you see on a computer screen, whether online or from a word processor is readable digital text. If you are working online and would like to have the software read to you, it can do it. The free voices are a little mechanical sounding, but students adapt to them quickly, and they do not seem to mind them. Most of the readers allow you to adjust the speed either slower or faster. This allows those who process quickly, to adjust it to a speed that works for them (and vice versa).
- Use it to proofread written work. It does not skip over words like we tend to do when reading our own work. If you are a poor speller, you may have selected the wrong word when using the spelling checker. Sometimes, the spelling checker automatically replaces a word you typed, and it is not the word you wanted. The computer will read the wrong word; you will notice it and be able to correct it.
- Use it to create audio books. Many of these readers can convert text to MP3 so you can listen to it on your MP3 player (like your iPod).
Most textbook publishers make their books available in digital format for students who are diagnosed with learning disabilities specific to language. Some of these are available online and some on CD. Ask your child’s teacher to find out whether it is available. If your child has an IEP, providing books in a digital format can be a required modification.
Text-to-speech software is great for reading to your child, but it can do so much more! Best of all—very good readers are available for free.