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What is text-to-speech technology (TTS)?

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology that reads digital text aloud. It’s sometimes called “read aloud” technology.
 
With a click of a button or the touch of a finger, this technology can take words on a computer or other digital device and convert them into audio. TTS is very helpful for kids and adults who struggle with reading. But it can also help with writing and editing, and even with focusing.
 
TTS works with nearly every personal digital device, including computers, smartphones, and tablets. All kinds of text files can be read aloud, including Word and Pages documents. Even online web pages can be read aloud.

How does text-to-speech work?

 

TTS works with nearly every personal digital device, including computers, smartphones and tablets. All kinds of text files can be read aloud, including Word and Pages documents. Even online web pages can be read aloud.

The voice in TTS is computer-generated and reading speed can usually be sped up or slowed down. Voice quality varies, but some voices sound human. There are even computer-generated voices that sound like children speaking.

Many TTS tools highlight words as they are read aloud. This allows users to see text and hear it at the same time.

Some TTS tools also have a technology called optical character recognition (OCR). OCR allows TTS tools to read text aloud from images. For example, a user could take a photo of a street sign on their phone and have the words on the sign turned into audio.

Types of text-to-speech tools

 

Built-in text-to-speech: Many devices have built-in TTS tool. This includes desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and digital tablets and Chrome.

Web-based tools: Some websites have TTS tools on-site. For instance, you can turn on our website’s “Reading Assist” tool, located in the lower left corner of your screen, to have this webpage read aloud. There are also free TTS tools available online.

Text-to-speech apps: Users can also download TTS apps on smartphones and digital tablets. These apps often have special features like text highlighting in different colors and OCR.

Chrome tools: Chrome is a relatively new platform with several TTS tools. These include Read&Write for Google Chrome and Snap&Read Universal. You can use these tools on a Chromebook or any computer with the Chrome browser.

Text-to-speech software programs: There are also several literacy software programs for desktop and laptop computers. Examples include Kurzweil 3000, ClaroRead, and Read&Write.

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