Text to Speech - North Carolina Assistive Technology Program


Overview of Text to Speech:

“ Getting the computer to read your printed document out loud”

Ja Medlicott

NCATP AT Consultant

Text to Speech

This presentation will review options for using the computer to read text

Text Reader

• “Text-to-Speech software is used to convert words from a computer document (e.g. word processor document, web page) into audible speech spoken through the computer speaker”

Reasons for Using a Text Reader

• Visual Issue

(Difficulty seeing text)

• Cognitive Issue

( Low reading level/comprehension)

• Motor Issue

(Difficulty handling a book or paper)

Text Reader vs. Screen Reader

Text Reader:

Screen Reader:

For navigation purposes will read both what is on a computer desktop and will also read text

Forms of Text

• E text

Most of the text you see on your computer

Examples: Internet, Email, Word Document, E Books

• Paper text

Any text is printed on paper

Most people ask for help with printed text.

They want a book they have to be placed on the computer

Examples: Newspaper, Book, Magazine

How to get Printed Text into your Computer


A scanner takes a picture of the document

A scanned document is a picture first!

Example Scan Text.jpg

Can a text reader read a picture?

It can not!

Must have additional software to change or format it into a text file or document

This software is called


Optical Character Recognition


Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Converts the scan picture of text into a true text file or document.

Most scanners you buy today come with their own OCR software

Example of My Scanner OCR


Scanned Text

Converted Text File

Better OCR

• SimpleOCR 3 (Free)


• OmniPage 15 ($150)

• ABBYY FineReader ($400)

Scanner Issues

A flatbed scanner produces a spine shadow or text distortion

Cutting a book …damages it and page order is a issue

Better Scanners


• OpticBook 3600 ($240)

• Zoom Ex ($2400)

Scanning is time consuming and labor intensive!

Forms of Text

• E text

Most of the text you see on your computer

Examples: Internet, Email, Word Document, E Books

• Paper text

Any text is printed on paper

Examples: Newspaper, Book, Magazine

Types of Text Readers

Free Versions

• Uses “free” computer sounding voices

• Reads e text that is on your computer

Fee Base Versions

• Have human sounding voices

• Reads e text and some have OCR software

Speech Engine

A speech engine is what your computer uses to convert text into speech

Sometimes called a speech synthesizer or text-to-speech (TTS)

It gives you computer a voice

Text-To-speech (TTS)

“Voice” Resources http://www.microsoft.com/msagent/downloads/user.asp





Free Text Readers

• NaturalReader (100 Character Limit) review

• ReadPlease

• WordTalk

Review review

• Adobe Reader review

• Microsoft Reader

• Bookshelf

Review review

Commercial Text Readers

• Natural Reader Professional/Enterprise


• Premier Assistive Technology

• TextOutloud

• Kurzweil 3000

How to choose a Text Reader

What are you using it for

• Vision

• Cognition

• Motor

E- Libraries

www North Carolina's Digital Media Library www Universal Library Project. www Internet Public Library (7,700 books) www Linklist "Other Online Text Collections" at ipl.org

www Athena authors & text English, France, Italian... www Baen www UVa Electronic Text Center. 20,000 books www The William Morris Homepage www Alex: A Catalogue of Electronic Texts on the Internet www California Digital Library www Bibliomania www BannedBooks www Guttenberg (www) www Romantic Circles: University of Maryland and elsewhere Byron, the Shelley's, Keats, and their contemporaries. www The American Verse Project: 35 volumes of American verse prior to 1920 www Project Bartleby at Columbia University: a collection of 38 authors www University of Chicago Philosophy Project www Greatest books worldwide. Current list of the top 100 books.

www Isaac Newton www http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/makeauthorpage

E books

• http://www.ebooks.com/

• http://library.netlibrary.com/Home.aspx

• http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/551440/ref=b_tn_bh_eb/002-


• http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi

• http://www.ereader.com/

Go to Google a type in E books


This PowerPoint presentation will be on the

NCATP web site next week.