Tech Recipe: Listen to Your Writing

Writing and editing on screen is beneficial for many students with low vision. A student who may not be using full-feature screen-reading software can learn to use text to speech for certain tasks. Even students using minimal accommodations on the computer may benefit from learning to listen to their writing. Writing and editing on screen can be visually fatiguing (especially distinguishing periods from commas, looking for missed punctuation and finding the text cursor). Listening back to writing with text to speech is a great way to proofread. 

This lesson is written in the form of a “Tech Recipe.” We know that there are many ways to complete tasks on computers and tablets and I like thinking in terms of recipes. This way we can focus on the outcome rather than the specific device. What are we trying to do and why? In this case, we want to listen to what we have written in order to proofread it. How can we do that on various computers and devices?

When I am introducing text to speech to a student and a parent, I want to put a positive spin on the computer voice. I ask parents to stay neutral too. Try not to express to their child how “bad” the computer sounds or how hard it is to listen to. No insulting the computer voice! Their child may not always have a choice and people easily learn to get the content without worrying about the voice. I make an analogy to a font, sometimes you just need to get the message and the font doesn’t matter.

Also, I want to define the computer language I am using. “Command” is an important computer concept to discuss with students. A quick definition is given as a “Technology Word of the Day.”

Setting up the speech on a PC running Microsoft Word has multiple steps.  Watch the video for step-by-step instructions.

See the attached Tech Recipe Voice Feedback document for more information and for details on how to set up speech on other devices.

Here is a Jessica's video demonstrating how to use Docs in Chromebook, both with and without the ChromeVox screen reader.



Posted by Jessica McDowellMar 06, 2016

Another great way to quickly read back what you are writing when working on an iPad or iPhone is to use the Speak Screen feature.  Open settings - General - Accessibility - Speech - turn on Speak Screen. This allows you to swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content of the screen. A control panel also appears; you can tap to play/pause, adjust speed and fast forward/rewind.

Posted by Peggy SchollMar 30, 2016

Question about setting up speech on a PC running Mcrosoft Word. I am following the video and attempting to set up the speech. I pull down the menu, select more commands, and look for Customize Ribbon; which I do not have. I am using Windows 7, is this an option and/or do I need to find Cunstomize Ribbom someplace else? Thanks.  

Posted by Jessica McDowellMar 31, 2016

Hi Peggy,
Are you able to add "Speak" to Quick Access Toolbar? Let's test if you can add the clickable icon in the quick access toolbar
Add Speak to the Quick Access Toolbar
You can add the Speak command to your Quick Access Toolbar by doing the following:
Next to the Quick Access Toolbar, click Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
Quick Access Toolbar Speak command
Click More Commands.
In the Choose commands from list, select All Commands.
Scroll down to the Speak command, select it, and then click Add.
Click OK.
When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
Now that we know if that worked or not, the next step for the keyboard shortcut is...
I'm running MS Word 2013 on Windows 7 Enterprise.
To add the keyboard shortcut, "Customize Ribbon" appears in the left frame of "Word Options" which I got to in the video one way but "Word Options" can also be opened from File tab (Options appears left side bottom). In the Word Options menu dialog box, I have Customize Ribbon in the left panel. Select it then "Keyboard Shortcuts: Customize" appears. After clicking Customize, in the Categories box, I can find "All Commands" and selecting All Commands populates box on the right with every option and "SpeakStopSpeaking" appears. Selecting that gives me ability to "Specify keyboard sequence." I set Alt+S
Whew! Hope that helps, let me know how it goes. Jessica
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