Angelia Martinez

Student having difficulty understanding text-to-speech

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Good morning- 

I created a membership and assigned a book to a college student student who has a learning disability. She downloaded the free Bookshare reading tool to read it. She is now saying she has a difficulty understanding the automated voice. She wants a human voice. Is there a solution for this? Are some software better than others? Is $800 for Kurweil a solution? 

Thank you, 

Angie Martinez 

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Hi Angelia,

Voicing definitely depends on the application used, if your student is using an iOS device like an iPad or iPhone the Voice Dream Reader application comes with some of the highest quality voices currently available.  

If on a PC I might recommend first trying Open Lore before spending that much money for a tool.  Open Lore is specifically designed for students with Dyslexia, but can be helpful to a lot of our other members as well.  It comes with the Heather and Ryan voice from Acapela, Ryan is available to preview at but it appears they've removed Heather from the preview section.  

Kurzweil definitely has a ton of great study tools and other features to enhance the text as well, it definitely would be a great option just with a larger price tag associated with it.

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I have worked with so many LD students and each has a different voice they prefer. This is because all reading differences are different.


I try to acquire as many different TTS voices as possible each time our college has extra money so if a student needs, I can always make them MP3 files of sections they need to read.


One thing I've learned is that the more you practice using electronic voices, the better you get, until eventually it hardly matters what voice you are using.


Remember that some people also have auditory processing disorders, and that's the problem; not the voice they are currently using to read a book. For them, seeing the book while the voice reads is crucial.


Your choices are more limited with the web reader in Windows, but my best advice is to try and purchase as many of the TTS voices that you can. On the iPAD and Android, VoiceDream users can work with a variety of low-cost voices. On Windows many Daisy book readers can use SAPI voices.


This link:


will let you download a demo of 39 voices I prepared for my students so they can experiment with listening to all the different ones. The readme included lists sources of voices both for free and purchase and also Windows programs one can use to read with these voices.

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