Text-to-speech assistive technology for dyslexic students

Author: Malcolm Litten
Published: 05/08/2019

Text to speech assistive technologyStatistics tell us that 1 in 20 children are significantly affected by dyslexia.  So in the vast majority of lessons, there are individuals whose ability to read rapidly and accurately is compromised by this condition.

Despite the prevalence of this problem, only a small number of schools have organised themselves to provide their pupils with a vital tool that can enable them to remain fully engaged in tasks involving reading.  Text-to-speech assistive technology can remove the barriers to such pupils coping with any text they are required to read.  They can use it to operate independently.  The same technology can also serve as an invaluable assistant when editing their written work.

Why is it not used in every school in the land?  A free version of this technology is available to install and it is now a built-in feature of both Microsoft Office and Google docs, so it is not a question of cost. 

It seems that there is a widespread lack of awareness of the possibilities.  Research has convincingly demonstrated that text-to-speech supported access to texts can alter pupils’ willingness to remain involved in work they otherwise feel alienated from.  Such support, in my view, should be seen as the right of every pupil who struggles to cope with reading.

I've suggested some ideas in my downloadable resource for how you can integrate this tool in your classroom and school. 

(This article was first published on 4/4/16 as a newsletter.) 

Malcolm Litten

Malcolm Litten has over 40 years' experience as an English teacher, tutor and consultant in assistive technology.