What is the Text-to-Speech Technology and how does it work?

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology that reads digital text aloud and can sometimes be called “read aloud” technology.

It’s super easy to use, it only takes a click of a button or the touch of a finger to make it work. From this, TTS can take words on a computer or any digital device and transform them into audio. For kids who have a hard time reading, this is very helpful and it can also help them improve their writing and editing skills, and even focusing better.

How Does It Work?

As mentioned before, you can use it on ANY personal digital device. It works on all kinds of text files being Word, online web pages, or even Pages documents. The voice that is used is generated by a computer, but the quality varies a lot, some even sound human (mostly kids). Also, you can control reading speed.

Many Text-to-Speech tools can highlight words as they are read aloud, which allows kids to see and hear texts at the same time, making it easier for them to follow.

Some Text-to-Speech tools come with a technology called optical character recognition (OCR). This permits its tools to read text aloud from images as well. This can be very useful for children as well, once if they take a photo of a street sign, they can have the words on the sign turned into audio.

Text-To-Speech and Kids

Some kids struggle with understanding and decoding printed words on the page. So, print materials in the classroom, such as books and handouts, instead of helping them learn can create obstacles for kids with reading issues. Digital text with Text-to-Speech helps remove these barriers, making it possible for everyone to learn as equals.

The technology also allows a multisensory reading experience, which is only possible because Text-to-Speech lets kids see and hear the text. This is very important to improve word recognition. Besides, it helps to increase the ability to focus, remember information while reading, and pay attention, making it easier for them to comprehend what is being said. In addition, increases kids’ staying power for reading assignments and helps them recognize and fix errors in their own writing.

Depending on the device your child uses, there are many different TTS tools available:

Text-to-Speech apps

Kids can also download TTS apps on smartphones and digital tablets. They often have special features such as OCR and text highlighting in different colors.

Built-in Text-to-Speech

Many devices have built-in TTS tools, allowing the child to use this TTS feature without purchasing special apps or software. This includes smartphones and digital tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and Chrome.

Chrome tools

Chrome is a relatively new platform with several TTS tools, which includes Snap&Read Universal and Read&Write for Google Chrome. You can use these tools on a Chromebook or any computer with the Chrome browser.

Web-based tools

Some websites have TTS tools on-site. You can turn on a website’s “Reading Assist” tool which is usually located in the lower-left corner of your screen, to have this webpage read aloud. Also,  you can create a free Bookshare account where you can download digital books that can be read with TTS and is normally free for kids with dyslexia.

Text-to-Speech software programs

There are also many literacy software programs and many of them come with TTS, in addition to other reading and writing tools that can help your child with reading.

Access TTS In School, Is It Possible?

If you think your child could possibly benefit from TTS you should speak with their teacher, once the school CAN and SHOULD provide TTS to help their students in improving their learning capabilities.

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