Basic Text to Speech ( TTS ) capabilities come with the OS X operating systems and can be used to have the computer read text to you. There are several 3rd party applications both free and for sale that can be added to your computer that will also do TTS. For Windows 10, there are Balabloka, Natural Reader and WordQ (amongst others). In the Chromebook environment "Read & Write", a 3rd party extension, can be purchased (see note below).
It is recommended to try out the features that come with the computer or the free apps first to see if this is a useful adaptation before investing in an application that costs money and is sometimes more complicated than what is needed.
Text to speech allows the user to select a body of text on the screen and then have the computer read that text out loud. The voice, rate of speech and in some cases inflection can all be customised to the needs of the user.
Any text that can be "selected" on your computer can have TTS applied to it. ( pdfs, word processor documents, webpages...)
For users that have decoding problems but have good auditory comprehension, TTS allows them access to content they would otherwise have difficulty with.
In the writing process, having the computer read back text that has been written in a word processor, gives the writer useful auditory feedback that they may not pick up on if reading the text silently to themselves.
Questions to keep in mind when listening to the text during the revision stage of the writing process;
Does this text say what I intended?
Are there missing ideas that I need to add?
Are there words missing?
It is best to select in small chunks at first, a sentence or at most a paragraph at a time.
Some Text to Speech engines require a connection to the internet in order to function. Chromebooks and tablets tend to work this way. Internet access is not allowed during MEES exams. Special authorization from the MEES is required In order for a student to use TTS with internet access.
Balabloka TTS for PC info (PDF): Download
Natural Reader TTS for PC (PDF): Download
TTS OS X (PDF): Download