How text to speech can help people with low vision: The ultimate guide

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    How can text to speech help people with low vision? This ultimate guide will answer all your questions.

    How text to speech can help people with low vision: The ultimate guide

    Visually impaired people face numerous challenges in their daily life. Traditional tactile vision aids like Braille or magnifiers for people with vision loss are helpful to a certain degree. Now, with the advance of technology, numerous other tools like the text to speech (TTS) provide modern solutions for dealing with digital content.

    This article shares all you need to know about TTS for people with low vision. We go over the basics of what TTS is and share the top online tools to try.

    What is text to speech?

    Text to speech (TTS) is an assistive technology type that reads text aloud. You may have heard about “read-aloud” technology before. “Text to speech” is just its official name.

    TTS reads words from a computer—or sometimes printed text —and converts that text into audio files. Most modern-day software with TTS functionality is super simple to use. All devices with Android, Apple (iOS, Mac), Windows, Linux, and other operating systems support this type of technology.

    This assistive technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning to provide great results. The voices are computer generated and often have lifelike tones, pronunciation, and intonation.

    More advanced programs use optical character recognition (OCR) technology to read text from printed sources like newspapers, street signs, product labels, and similar.

    Text to speech is suitable for numerous groups, including:

    • People with reading disabilities (dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, dysgraphia)
    • People with medical conditions that impact their speech abilities (stroke, brain injuries, Parkinson’s)
    • People with visual impairment (blindness, low vision, blurred vision, Diabetic retinopathy)

    How does text to speech help people with low vision?

    The advent of modern accessibility features like text to speech allows blind people and people with low vision to be more independent.

    People who can’t read from a screen can still interact with the content by having the text read aloud to them. Even people with no diagnosed visual impairments who experience occasional eye fatigue can benefit from text to speech, also known as TTS.

    What are the best text to speech software programs for people with low vision?

    The screen readers and text to speech apps below can help people with low vision by making their daily life easier.

    BRLTTY

    This screen reading software offers a refreshable Braille display to blind people using Linux or Unix consoles in text mode. The user has complete screen review functionality while the software drives the Braille display. The app also has speech capability.

    JAWS

    JAWS is a Windows screen reader with Braille and speech output for popular computer apps. The program integrates with Firefox, Microsoft Office, and other software.

    The reader has two multilingual synthesizers, Vocalizer Expressive and Eloquence. Users can give commands through gestures and touchscreens.

    The app is also compatible with MAGic magnification software as well as OpenBook, a popular reading and scanning program.

    The Standard version of the program is compatible with the same apps (Office, Firefox, etc.) and also has two multilingual synthesizers. The Professional version has a perpetual license term, while the Standard expires on the purchase anniversary date. The Professional version also includes add-on features for remote desktop support.

    COBRA

    COBRA is a screen reading program offering easy information access for people with low vision. It can convert computer information into Braille and speech or make it accessible through magnification.

    Three versions of this program are currently available:

    • COBRA Zoom with large print magnification and speech output
    • COBRA Braille with speech output for 70 Braille displays
    • COBRA Pro includes all features

    Speakup

    Speakup screen reader is a Linux program that lets users interact with apps and the GNU operating system. The users receive audible feedback, making it easy to navigate their computer screens. The app supports standard screen review functions like “Say line,” “Say word,” and others.

    Speechify

    Speechify is a text to speech reader that can transform any text (printed or digital) into natural-sounding audio files. Speechify uses OCR, deep learning, and artificial intelligence to offer robust text to speech functionality helpful for people with vision impairments.

    The app allows users to read web pages, Microsoft Word files, PDF files HTML pages, social media posts, and any other text on their computer screen with a single click of a button.

    The user has complete control over the playback, can use the app on any device (iPad, computer, desktop, Android phone, etc.), and enjoy its offline functionality. With Speechify, users can create podcast-like recordings of important web content or any type of text.

    Users can set up keyboard shortcuts for easier access. As the reader goes through the content, they can benefit from the highlighting option with high contrast to help content acquisition.

    Speechify – A valuable TTS tool for people with low vision

    Speechify is a valuable tool for people with low vision and other reading difficulties like dyslexia or ADHD. As a person with low vision, you can navigate through your daily tasks without relying on another person to read instructions, news articles, or other text types.

    Speechify will read out loud any text you input into its API using your touchscreen phone or any computer. Enjoy web content and enjoy more advanced features Siri and other virtual assistants don’t have.

    Try Speechify for free or recommend it to someone with visual impairments.

    FAQ

    How do you make text more readable for people with low vision?

    Text to speech tools are a great way to make texts more readable for people with low vision. Handheld devices and wearables are more premium solutions that can help.

    What is the difference between text to speech and voice recognition?

    Text to speech or speech readers translate text into audio, while voice recognition does the opposite. It recognizes voice and can serve as a transcription tool to provide a text version of the audio.

    What is a screen reader?

    A screen reader is an assistive technology tool for blind people that uses speech readers to translate digital data such as text, images, or web content into speech.

    What are some good tools for people with low vision?

    Speechify, JAWS, BRLTTY, and Speakup are excellent tools for people with low vision that can help them be more independent.

    What is the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative?

    The Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative, otherwise known as GARI, is an online database for accessible mobile phones, tablets, and apps that allows consumers to learn about the accessibility features of mobile devices.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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