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.
By Jessica McDowell