Written by Vanessa Deeg for 'deeg's place'
Natural Reader is a free web-based text-to-speech software that I have used frequently in my classroom and with my tutoring clients. For people with severe reading impediments or vision problems, Natural Reader comes to the rescue at the low-cost of free!
Simply go to their website and copy and paste any text into the box and the voice of 'Mike' will read it to you. You can even select the speed that the words are read.
A new improvement to this free service is the reader button that you can add to your URL bar at the top of your browser. Simply press the icon and the web text will be read aloud to you.
There is a paid version as well, which I would recommend if you can afford it because it helps Natural Reader develop and maintain the software they create and share for free. In the paid version, you can select other voices, convert text to audio files, sync with apps, use with e-readers and more.
Natural Reader is a huge help for people with severe dyslexia, who often will pour over simple texts and struggle with decoding even small sight words, but who can understand and engage with complex language in longer texts. Natural reader frees them to be able to absorb the material without wasting their brain energy on decoding. A good example of this is with college or university students with a learning disability. If you buy a textbook, often times you can call the publisher directly to get a PDF copy of the textbook, which you can copy and paste the selected readings into the Natural Reader software. Voila! Reading struggles are over and the student can focus on understanding the content of the lesson.
I use Natural Reader to multi-task, or when my eyes are too tired to read, but my brain is still captivated to learn. I can use Natural Reader to listen to the web page instead, and I can just sit back and relax and absorb the information.
I hope you found this information useful. Please check back with the deegsplace Facebook page for more useful LD resources and information.
Copyright © 2017
Vanessa Deeg is an Ontario Certified Teacher who teaches reading to adults and teens with learning disabilities. She lives in Niagara, ON.