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Text-to-speech and UDL: a tool for ALL primary and secondary students - Dyslexia Advocacy week Tip 2

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Started by Chrissie Butler 17 Mar 2015 9:51am () Replies (5)

For many students with dyslexia, reading text can be hard work.

Check out the video below to see what some of the students in your class may be experiencing.

Text-to-speech tools can be a huge support for many students with dyslexia. But they can also be part of tool kit for ALL students.

They are also a whole of life tool. For example, journalists often use them to proof their writing as it helps them pick up errors that they might miss with a quick visual scan or by reading their own writing aloud.

As an example of text-to-speech in action, check out the video below, where Kit Hard discusses and models: 

  • how to apply the accessibility features on the iPad through the framework of Universal Design for Learning
  • strategies for supporting all learners in the classroom using the iPad's build in text-to-speech settings".

Kit is a great person to follow on Twitter too. You can find him @Kithard.

We would love to hear from:

  • What's your experience of using text-to-speech tools in your classroom? 
  • What questions do you have about using text-to-speech?

For more information visit: 


  • Lynne Silcock (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2015 8:36am ()


    There is also some information about Text to Speech on the Assistive Technology VLN group which outlines free options:

    • how to turn in on on your iPad or Mac computer
    • Rea&Write for google (Chrome add on that works online and in Google docs etc)
    • downloadable options for Windows

    See Text to speech for more information.


  • Barrie Matthews (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2015 9:30am ()

    I agree that text-to-speech is a useful technology tool and have successfully installed and run an app on my smart phone that does an acceptable job of reading web pages. However, at LEARNZ we decided to go a step further.

    LEARNZ field trip teachers narrate selected material, which means it is spoken in a real voice with a New Zealand accent and intonation, and there is correct pronunciation of Maori and Pasifika words and scientific words.

    Here is an example from the Memorial Park virtual field trip for a page called First World War and New Zealand's Involvement (click on the Listen button at the top of the page).

    In feedback about LEARNZ, teachers tell us that this is a great feature which helps emerging readers (and writers). 

    "The quality of resources is exemplary. Being able to access audio to support the readings is crucial for a number of learners in my class. The field trip met all of the learning intentions outlined by the LEARNZ overview and opened new lines of discussion and knowledge for all students." Beverley Kemp from Karoro School about the Wetland Biodiversity field trip. More comments about how teachers have used LEARNZ.

    Dyslexic students in your class? Try a LEARNZ virtual field trip and the rest of your students will thank you too!

  • Lynne Silcock (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2015 9:47am ()

    Hi Barrie

    That is such a cool thing to do. I lobe the way it allows us to celebrate our NZ identity.

    The similar idea can be applied in the classroom where students or their peers can narrate their own work or create talking books using their own voice.

    I like using simple tools like PowerPoint to create talking books using the super quick 'insert photo album' technique (not available on Mac version I am afraid). This technique allows you to make multiple pages all at once rather than making one page at a time. It sets up the page with an image and text box on each page. The record slide show option than allows you to narrate the slides.

    We have also reviewed iPad talking book options. We found Book Creator flexible and versatile as well as easy to use, though of course that would always depend on your purpose and the students individual needs.


  • Barrie Matthews (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2015 1:17pm ()

    Hi Lynne

    Yes, good for students to use technology to create something of their own to show their learning. It's a good UDL principle to differentiate ways for students to demonstrate what they know.

    In a LEARNZ field trip there is a wealth of material - text, photos, diagrams, sound, and videos. Students can include any of our material in their presentations or edit it to show what they know. And it's arguably much easier with ICT tools like those you mention..


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