Dyslexia: how text to speech apps can help
Research shows that voice synthesisers powered by text-to-speech technology can be extremely helpful for those people who got diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) such as dyslexia.
In this article we’ll go over the ways text to speech apps can be of assistance to anyone who suffers from dyslexia and why.
What is text to speech?
Text to speech (TTS) is an AI-powered technology that converts any written text into audio, reading it out loud with natural sounding voices. Voice or speech synthesisers take advantage of TTS technology as text readers and they can process any type of files (PDF, txt, html), and sometimes even scan pictures (pg format) with text written on them. There are different types of speech synthesisers on the market. The most common are those that read text with a natural sounding voice in just a few minutes. While reading, these tools also highlight the text you’ve just converted into audio. In addition, the most sophisticated TTS programs like Speak4Me allow users to choose between different languages and voices, which differ in gender, age and tone, and adjust the reading speed.
Some of the most popular voice synthesisers are mobile applications downloadable on the App Store. Compared to other web-based softwares, apps are easier to get and very accessible for a daily use.
How can text to speech apps help people with dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that causes learning difficulties and problems in reading and comprehension of a written text. This Specific Learning Disorder manifests itself through slow, poorly fluent reading with numerous inaccuracies.
Text to speech apps are extremely helpful for people diagnosed with a SLD and particularly for those suffering from dyslexia.
By transforming a text into audio, speech synthesis provides a viable alternative to the classic reading process to which we have always been accustomed since we were kids. This is what is known as "reading with the ears," a kind of virtual multilingual reading that allows users to identify the parts of the text they want to read, change the speed of reading, change the intonation, and choose the voice or accent that allows them to better understand. Moreover, when the function of highlighting the words being read is available, text to speech apps allow the activation of the dual reading channel, which allows to keep the reader’s attention high.
It is important to remember, however, that text to speech apps are tools that should be introduced gradually, carrying out a "training" period during which the person suffering from dyslexia can become familiar with the technology and the tool itself.
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