Text-to-Speech for Accessibility
About 785-975 million people worldwide have a disability according to the World Health Survey and Global Burden of Disease estimates. That’s about 15-19% of the world population. In the latest US Census, there are 57 million people with a disability and about 8 million people have vision impairments in the US. With an aging population and the increase in chronic health conditions like diabetes and cancer, the need for accessibility will only continue to grow.
How can we improve accessibility around the globe?
This blog article is part 1 in an 8-part blog series highlighting the applications of text-to-speech.
Text-to-speech is one piece of the puzzle by making information accessible through audio and by giving people with communication difficulties a voice.
Here are some ways text-to-speech can be used to improve accessibility:
- Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices
- Audio Enabled Websites
- DAISY Digital Talking Books
- Educational Software
- Mobile Applications
- Screen Readers
Communication is a vital part of everyday life. It’s how we share information and develop social interactions. AAC is grouped into aided and unaided forms. Unaided AAC includes methods like body and sign language. Aided AAC involves an external instrument from low tech like pen and paper to high tech like an electronic device. Each individual has unique needs and can use a combination of methods. High tech methods like a tablet can incorporate a text-to-speech function to act as a voice for the user. For people with speech difficulties, an AAC device like Tobii Dynavox has a profound impact on personal autonomy and confidence.
Audio Enabled Websites
A core foundation of the World Wide Web is universal access. Web accessibility is about making easy site navigation for people with limited fine motor skills, adequate font size and line spacing, and alternative text descriptions for images. An easy way to make a website voice-enabled is with text-to-speech. It’s especially important for public service websites, such as for government and educational institutions, to be audio-enabled with text-to-speech so all visitors can access the content. You can quickly publish a text-to-speech voice-enabled website by simply subscribing to the Web Reader service at ReadSpeaker. ReadSpeaker, one of our sister companies, provides the best and foolproof voice streaming services to all formats of web pages.
DAISY Digital Talking Books
The Digital Access Information System (DAISY) is a standard for audiobooks and digitized texts. What makes DAISY books better than a traditional audiobook? The DAISY format has additional features for blind persons and people with print disabilities, such as navigation levels, search, and large print or Braille printouts. A vital part of the accessibility of print text is out loud readings, and DAISY books use both synthesized and human voices.
Educational software and eLearning courses with text-to-speech not only make learning content more accessible but also improve and deepen learners’ comprehension. The Tarn Group added text-to-speech to their eLearning platform, Bracken, so adult learners with reading difficulties could understand the material and develop their reading skills. Schools for the blind like the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired use text-to-speech in classes.
Everyday devices like smart phones and tablets can be turned into communication devices with mobile applications like InnerVoice, a communication app for people with autism. InnerVoice acts not only as a voice for the user, but as a communication learning tool. Users listen to the pronunciation of words with text-to-speech as well as watch an avatar’s facial expressions to see the emotions portrayed with a sentence or question.
Communication is a two-way street. And how do machines communicate with people? Communication devices give users a voice while screen readers like Voice Dream make content heard. Hearing text spoken out loud is useful not only for people with vision impairments, but people with dyslexia or who want to improve their reading comprehension.
Check out the whole blog series on the applications of text-to-speech:
- Text-to-Speech for Accessibility
- Text-to-Speech for Announcements
- Text-to-Speech for Education
- Text-to-Speech for Entertainment
- Text-to-Speech for Finance
- Text-to-Speech for Healthcare
- Text-to-Speech for Telecommunications
- Text-to-Speech for Transportation
Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech
Want to learn more about all the ways Text-to-Speech can be used? Visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And check out our Text-to-Speech Products page to find the right package for any device or application.
If you’re interested in integrating Text-to-Speech technology into your product, please fill out our short Sales Inquiry form and we’ll get you all the information and tools you need.