This feature involves a text-to-speech engine that reads the text on a web page aloud. This may be implemented in a number of different ways – as a built-in text-to-speech reader in the operating system, as downloadable screen reader software that operates on the user’s machine, or as a remote text-to-speech service that receives text online and returns a spoken copy as an audio file.
The way that text is read may vary depending on the implementation and the user group. This approach reads words or blocks of text aloud when they are highlighted or clicked, giving people with cognitive disabilities and/or low vision control over the sections they would like to hear spoken aloud.
Discussion by Disabilities (Benefits & Preferred Behaviors)
- Read text aloud, including alt texts for images.
- Read text aloud, allow users with low vision to only listen to sections that are difficult to read directly.
- Read text aloud, allow users with cognitive disabilities or low literacy to only listen to sections that are difficult to read or understand.
This listing includes a wide range of products, from screen readers, to simple text-to-speech utilities, to large literacy suites that include a text-to-speech application. Please note that these products are not necessarily endorsed by RtF, but represent the range of available options.
Many operating systems, including Windows Vista and Mac OS X, include limited built-in screen reading ability as well.
Open Source and free
These products are free and their source code may be modified with few restrictions.
- AccessiBar Extension – Mozdev, Edan Kemelman
- ATalker – ATutor, ATRC at University of Toronto
- Audio Enriched Links – UNC, Peter Parente
- CliCk, Speak – CLC (Charles Chen)
- Clique – UNC, Peter Parente
- EmacSpeak – TV Raman
- FireVox – CLC (Charles Chen)
- MozBraille – Cedrik Chek, Mozdev
- NVDA – NVDA Project
- Orca – (open source), Sun
- Power Reader – Project: Possibility
- PowerTalk – FullMeasure
- RoboBraille – RoboBraille Consortium
- Speegle – (open source)
- WebAnywhere – U. of Washington, Jeff Bigham
Free, not necessarily open source
These products are free to use, but may have strict restrictions on viewing and modifying source code.
- System Access To Go – Serotek
- Thunder – Screenreader.net
- WebVisum – WebVisum
- BrookesTalk – Oxford Brookes University, SPEECH Project
- EdWord – DeafBlind Online
- GhostReader – Origin Instruments
- MathPlayer – Design Science
- Natural Reader Text-to-Speech – Natural Soft
- SimplyWeb2000 – EconoNet International
- Speakonia – CFS Technologies
- UltraHal – Zabaware
- Web Adaptation Technology – IBM
- WordTalk – Call Centre
Commercial, with free trial
These products are free to try for a limited period of time or with limited functionality. They must be purchased for full functionality.
- JAWS – Freedom Scientific
- Virgo, Cobra – Baum
- 2nd Speech Center – 2nd Speech Center
- Ace Buddy – Zero2000
- Aurora Suite – Aurora Systems
- ClaroRead – Claro Software
- CoolSpeech – ByteCool
- Easy Web Browsing – IBM
- Guide – Software Express
- Hal – Dolphin
- Kurzweil 3000 – Kurzweil Educational Systems
- Literacy Productivity Pack – Premier Literacy
- OpenBook – Freedom Scientific
- Scan & Read Pro – Premier Literacy
- Speaking Email Deluxe – UK Software
- Text to Wave/MP3 – Research Labs, Inc
- TextAloud – Nextup.com
- VisioVoice, iVox – AssistiveWare
- WordQ – Quillsoft, Bloorview Kids Rehab
- WriteOnline – CrickSoft
- WYNN – Freedom Scientific
- ZoomText Magnifier/Reader – AI Squared
- QualiWorld Suite – QualiLife
- Read & Write Gold – Texthelp
Commercial, no free trial
These products must be purchased to be used, and did not offer free trials at the time of posting.
- Adept1 – Amazability
- J-Say – Tandt Consulting
- Mobile Speak – Code Factory
- System Access – Serotek
- Windows Eyes – GW Micro
- Aspire Reader – CAST, Aquus Tech
- iCommunicator – PPR
- ReadOn – Sensory Software
- Solo Literacy Suite – Don Johnston
- Talking Desktop – Talking Desktop
- WebAdapt2Me – IBM
Related Research and Papers
- WebAnywhere: a screen reader on-the-go – University of Washington – Bigham, J.P. and Prince, C.M. (2007)
- Towards one world web with HearSay3 – University of Washington – Borodin, Y., Bigham, J.P., Stent, A., and Ramakrishnan, I.V. (2008)
- A flexible VXML interpreter for non-visual web access – University of Washington – Borodin, Y. (2006)
- AxsJAX: a talking translation bot using google IM: bringing web-2.0 applications to life – Chen, C.L. and raman, T.V. (2008)
- Csurf: a context-driven non-visual web-browser – University of Washington – Mahmud, J.U., Borodin, Y., and Ramakrishnan, I.V. (2007)
- VoxBoox:: a system for automatic generation of interactive talking books – University of Texas, Dallas – Jain, A. and Gupta, G. (2006)
- Ongoing investigation of the ways in which some of the problems encountered by some dyslexics can be alleviated using computer techniques – University of Dundee – DIckinson, A., Gregor, P., and Newell, A.F. (2002)
Contributions & Discussion
Any corrections, suggestions, or additions to this page? Please let us know by emailing Contribution@RaisingTheFloor.net with [MasterList] in the subject line.
You can also join the discussion on the Access Feature Master List Google Group.