Screen Readers provide access to electronic information for people with vision loss or difficulty reading. With screen readers you can read text on the screen in most popular applications including productivity software (MS Office), web browsers, operating system interfaces, programming and a variety of languages. Many people find it useful to learn keyboard shortcuts to control this software rather than use the mouse.
Screen Readers read everything on the screen in a synthetic voice. They read the text in popular applications, menus, error messages, assisting users to navigate pages by headings, tables, lists, buttons, form controls, read by line, character, word or paragraph, and hear what you type.
They differ from Text to Speech software that is typically mouse driven or is used to read a section of text.
FREE For Windows computers:
FREE for Apple Computers & Devices:
Add speech synthesizers with higher quality voices to your computer (Apple, Windows, Linux):
Many of these products have the following features to assist in reading:
Balabolka a FREE program that can read the clipboard contents. You can view the text from multiple file formats (AZW, AZW3, CHM, DjVu, DOC, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, MOBI, ODT, PRC, PDF and RTF), Also, customize the font and background colour of viewed text, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV, MP3, MP4, OGG or WMA file. Power packed FREE product that can take patience to learn.
ClaroRead Software for Windows, Apple and iOS facilitate reading and writing of your computer’s information. Its floating toolbar can be used in many programs. A trial can be obtained from the website ClaroRead Software Feature videos
E-Text Reader from Premier Assistive can be a portable reading solution as it can be carried on a USB key. Check its FAQ to learn which programs it works in.
Kurzweil 3000 for Windows or Mac provide the most features you will find in one software product for reading, writing, organising ideas, and annotating documents. A trial version is available from their website.
Natural Reader a FREE Windows & Apple floating toolbar to read selected text aloud. Or, copy and paste text into its text reader. The paid versions can also convert text to an mp3 audio file.
Read & Write Gold by TextHELP has a variety of software offerings to allow you to hear web pages and documents read aloud to improve reading comprehension, support for writing, and study tools. Their products are on various platforms including Windows, Apple OSX, Chrome plug ins, iPad or Android typing/word prediction apps. Visit the above website for more information and product trial versions. Here are the Read & Write Gold PC Feature Videos on YouTube. Athabasca University has a site license of this product and a future announcement will be made on how you can use our licenses when you sign into your MyAU.
TextAloud is a floating toolbar which reds text. It has a trial version for download.
Word Talk – a FREE Microsoft Word plug in (2007-2016) that speaks the entire document, paragraph or word; highlights the text as it goes; talking dictionary; adjust the word highlight colours; change the voice or the speed and convert text to speech (wav or mp3).
In addition to some of the above products that convert text to audio files for listening convenience, you can create your own audio files by using these services. Spoken Text is a web subscription service where you upload your text files and they provide you a download of the audio using synthesized speech, minutes later. You should ensure a fairly clean text. There is a free trial period.
On Apple computers you can activate the service to “Add to iTunes as SpokenText”. This allows you to select any text and initiate the service to convert it to an audio file. Then you can listen or download the file from the SpokenText playlist in iTunes. Add to iTunes as SpokenText Video and Add to iTunes as SpokenText text Instructions
Sometimes dimming parts of the screen helps to maintain focus and reading place, much like a ruler on a print book.
Most applications have a zoom feature which allows you to enlarge the size of the print on the screen. This works in internet browsers, some word processors, Adobe and more applications. It does not enlarge error messages or menus. Try it and you will see!
Make the text on your screen larger on Windows computers
Use Microsoft Windows built in Magnifier to see everything on the screen magnified.
Pay For Magnification Software (Windows):
Activate the Apple OSX built in Zoom feature
Pay For Magnification Software (Apple):
These tools are helpful for assisting you to concentrate on the content of a website by featuring that content in an easy-to-read, clutter-free, scrollable display.
Mobile apps are installed on your phone or tablet, are free or paid for and can assist you to read eText by:
The ASD Mobile App Selection Tool (MAST) was created to assist you to select apps by category of learning skill (reading, writing, memory, etc.) that may enhance your learning on a mobile device.
More information about various mobile device apps, features for learning, and research can be found on the Types of Assistive Technology, Mobile Page.
If you have questions about these resources contact the ASD Assistive Technologist
Updated April 30 2014 by Student & Academic Services