Blind folks and those with reading difficulties such as dyslexia face a lot of challenges on a daily basis, both major and minor, but the inability to interact with the written word in a conventional manner might just take the crown, especially in this digital day and age. In fact, you can close your eyes right now, and you’ll see just how lucky you are to be able to read this text.
However, when conventional methods don’t work, we can always look for other ways of engaging with written material, e.g., Braille. But, since most of our reading is done online and on digital devices, we can instead turn to various text to speech apps and assistive web browser extensions that will do the reading for us.
Ways to support the blind or visually impaired
Naturally, assistive technology (say, screen readers), is just one drop in the ocean of things that we can turn to aid those with disabilities or reading difficulties. We can, of course, read printed text for them ourselves, we can provide them with audiobooks and find some helpful and interesting podcasts that will keep them engaged, or we can get them books printed in Braille. Of course, it goes without saying that we can do some of their chores and assist them with their daily tasks.
However, one of the most helpful things we can do is to introduce visually impaired people to TTS tools. That way, they’ll be able to perform some of their daily tasks alone and feel more independent, which is one of the most important steps forward. They’ll be able to browse the internet, read their e-mails, listen to voice overs, etc., and they’ll be able to interact with others online, too.
Overall benefits of using a text to speech reader
Since we’re focusing on reading today, we’ll pay most attention to various digital tools that can help those suffering from vision loss read their documents, consume web content, etc through the use of speech synthesizers. However, before we get into specific apps, it behooves us to give you an overview of what reading software can actually do to help the visually impaired:
Lots of reading and TTS tools are intuitive, user-friendly, and highly customizable, meaning they are perfect for virtually every individual user;
They feature high-quality AI voices that sound more than natural;
They support various languages, so they’re a great e-learning tool for those with low vision.
Different types of text to speech readers available on the market today
As you can probably guess, the market for text-to-speech readers and similar assistive tools is vast. From digital magnifiers to apps that turn scanned images into audio files and various mind mapping software solutions, there are dozens of choices, and they all come with their own pros and cons.
Text-to-speech programs can help blind people read web pages; mind mapping tools can help people with dyslexia organize their schedules without relying on a lot of words; screen magnification tools are fantastic for the elderly, etc. But, what all these programs have in common is the fact that they make reading much, much easier.
But, without further ado, here are our top picks:
First up, we have Speechify, a highly sophisticated TTS reader. What sets Speechify apart is its wide assortment of supported languages, its versatility, and the fact that it works on basically every major platform and operating system. It works on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Apple iOS, Linux, Android phones, and iPhones, and it supports all text and audio formats.
But, the most important thing here is the AI voice quality that it brings to the table. Blind and vision-impaired people are sensitive to audio input, so they will more than appreciate any chance they get to listen to a natural-sounding, authentic voice narrating their reading material.
Next up, Murf — a user-friendly tool that will make you feel like a professional in no time. It’s highly customizable, and it offers lots of options for those looking to run a team project or accommodate more users at the same time. It bears mentioning that it’s online-based, so there are no additional downloads and programs you need to install.
Speechelo is another cloud-based solution, which means it’s gonna work on any device (provided you have a working internet connection, of course). That’s a major plus if you’ve got plenty of devices and want to sync them all together, which can be really helpful for the visually impaired who are often on the go.
Finally, we’ve got Synthesys, probably the most user-friendly solution on the list. It’s got a very forgiving learning curve without sacrificing any of its functionalities. Synthesys supports more than five dozen languages and features plenty of voice options, so you’ll never get bored of listening to it.
Which text to speech reader is right for you – Speechify
Now that we’ve got our roster for this fight, it’s time to announce the winner — Speechify.
There are plenty of factors that contributed to our final decision, but most of them can be summed in two words: compatibility and adaptability.
Speechify is the most flexible speech conversion solution as it is not only cloud-based like some of the other competitors on our list above but instead comes as a browser extension and an app. That means you won’t always have to depend on stable servers and a working internet connection to be able to engage with your text.
In addition, Speechify works not only with HTML text and online blog posts — its sophisticated optical character recognition software can turn scanned images into audio files and turn printed material into speech.
Finally, Speechify accommodates not only blind users but those with less severe reading problems such as dyslexia as well. It features note-taking tools as well as text color and highlighting options that help with high contrast and eye strain, providing necessary help to those who can interact with a computer screen but need some adjustment tools to make their learning and business tasks go smoother.