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Listening and reading aids

Various aids are available for reading books. This page includes examples of aids and tips for using them. Accessibility Library Celia does not provide support for the following applications and programs.

AbilityNet gives valuable advice how to make the most of your computer’s or mobile device’s accessibility features: Help making your device easier to use.

Contents

Mobile device listening features

Select to Speak

Select to Speak can be activated on Android phones via the Accessibility menu, just like TalkBack.

Mobile device accessibility in general

Android device accessibility instructions website

Accessibility features of office programs

Read Aloud in Word

The Read Aloud function in Word can be used to listen to Word documents. To use the function, open the View tab in your toolbar, select Read Mode (top left), open the Review tab and click on Read Aloud. Instructions for the Read Aloud function.

Office 365 Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader works in the online version of Microsoft Word. The Read Aloud function allows you to listen to your text spoken aloud. Immersive Reader has ease-of-use functions that reduce visual noise, highlight text, divide words into syllables and read text aloud. It is also available in other Office tools, such as PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and OneNote.

Microsoft Office accessibility

General accessibility features in Microsoft Office

Microsoftt Disability Answer Desk

Accessibility features in Word

Accessibility features in PowerPoint

Accessibility features for Excel

Browser-based features

Read Aloud in the Edge browser

Read Aloud in Edge requires a Windows 10 computer or a Mac computer. It can be used to listen to text, but it is more limited than Narrator. More about ease-of-use functions in Microsoft Edge

Read Aloud in the Edge Chromium browser

Works on a Windows 10 computer. Right-click on top of the page, or press Ctrl+Shift+u, and then select Read Aloud.

Google Chrome

Extensions such as Read Aloud, which allows you to listen to text, are available for Google Chrome.

Immersive Reader

The Microsoft-approved Immersive Reader has an unofficial Chrome extension

ReadSpeaker TextAid

ReadSpeaker TextAid is a paid browser-based program. More about ReadSpeaker TextAid

Speech feature for Safari browser

The Speech feature reads aloud the text on the screen, and the device is controlled with the mouse or keyboard. You can change the language of the Speech feature even if you do not change the language of the operating system. The same Speech feature can also be used in other Mac applications.

Google Translate

Google Translate can also be used to read text aloud.

Downloadable listening applications

Listening applications available for smartphones and tablets from app stores

Dolphin EasyReader

Dolphin EasyReader is a free application for iPad and Android that reads accessible books such as Celia’s e-books and texts copied with the Reader function. More about Easy Reader

Voice Dream Reader / Legere Reader

Voice Dream Reader is a paid application for iPad. Application can read PDF and ePub files and supports the copying and reading aloud of webpage texts using the Safari browser. More about Voice Dream Reader.

Legere Reader

Legere Reader is is a paid application for Android. It’s an Android version of Voice Dream Reader. More about Legere Reader.

T2S: Text to Voice – Read Aloud

T2S: Text to Voice – Read Aloud is a free application for Android. It is recommended to use it together with the Google Text-to-Speech engine. The application can read PDF files in English, as well as other languages. The application’s language can be changed in the settings menu. More about T2S on Google Play

@Voice Aloud Reader

@Voice Aloud Reader is a free Android application that requires a text-to-speech voice (TTS) to function. More about @Voice Aloud Reader

Screen readers on mobile devices

Mobile devices usually have a built-in listening mode that you can use.

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader included with iPhones and iPads that allows for the device to be used without seeing the screen. E-books can be moved to iBooks and listened to using VoiceOver. The function can be activated by going to Settings > Accessibility, or Settings > General > Accessibility in older versions of iOS. Brief instructional videos How to navigate your iPhone with VoiceOver — Apple Support and IPAD with VoiceOver Part One. And you can use VoiceOver also in macOS.

TalkBack

TalkBack is a screen reader program present in Android operating systems that can be activated via the Accessibility menu. TalkBack instructions

Computer-based screen reader programs

Learning about screen reader programs for the first time? Read about desktop screen readers from What is a screen reader?

Windows 10’s Narrator feature

Narrator is a text-to-speech feature that comes as part of Windows 10 and can be used to listen to accessible PDF files. If using a Finnish version of Windows 10, the feature is called Lukija, is entirely in Finnish and uses a Finnish voice. Further information can be found on the Microsoft website. Full Narrator instructions

NVDA

NVDA is a screen reader for Windows. It is free to use, intended specifically for people with visual impairments and uses key commands but can also be used with a mouse. With NVDA, you can also listen to books downloaded to Adbobe Digital Editions, for example books that only offer the Download option in the Ellibs database. More about NVDA

Hearing features for Mac computers

In addition to the separate Speech feature, you can use the built-in VoiceOver screen reader on your Mac computer. The operating language of VoiceOver is the language of the operating system, but if more than one language is enabled in the tool, then the program can read the language markings. With VoiceOver, you can essentially use any software you get on your computer, unlike with the Speech feature.

Jaws

Jaws is a paid screen reader for the blind.

Reading applications with Read Aloud for computers

Dolphin Easy Reader App for Windows

Dolphin Easy Reader is a free application with a diverse feature set. Download Dolphin Easy Reader App for Windows.

Thorium Reader

Accessible EPUB book reader Thorium Reader. Works: Windows 10, MacOS and Linux.

PDF readers:

Read Out Loud in Adobe Reader

The Read Out Loud feature in Adobe Reader transforms text to speech. It reads the main text, comments and optional captions and fields in PDF files aloud. To use Read Out Loud, click on View > Read Out Loud. More about Adobe Reader’s Read Out Loud feature

Adobe Acrobat Reader Liquid mode

The Adobe Acrobat Reader free mobile apps have a mode called Liquid Mode, which is started by pressing the droplet-looking button at the top of the app. Liquid Mode makes pdf files easier to read on mobile devices and allows the user to customise the appearance of the text. The app supports screen readers. Information about using on Android devices, information about using on iOS devices.

Object character recognition (OCR)

With an OCR (Object Character Recognition) program, you can take a photograph of a textbook page or printed document, and the program will read the image and create an editable text file from it.

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is a free application for iPad developed by Microsoft for visually impaired people. It reads text seen by the device’s camera and can also recognize barcodes, read product descriptions, recognize faces and describe pictures stored on the device. More about Seeing AI

Voice Dream Scanner

Voice Dream Scanner is a paid application for iPad using the scanner functionality of the Voice Dream Reader product family. It works well together with Voice Dream Reader. The application highlights text as it works. More about Voice Dream Scanner

Adobe Scan

Adobe Scan is a free application for iPad. It recognises text in pictures taken by the device’s camera and turns it into a text file. The text can then be copied from the text file to a word processing or text-to-speech program, such as Voice Dream. More about Adobe Scan

Microsoft Office Lens

Microsoft Office Lens is a free application for iPad and Android. It can read pictures and turn them into editable Word or PowerPoint files. More about Microsoft Office Lens on Android and more about Microsoft Office Lens on iOS

Does your higher education institution have the following paid programs?

Your institution can sign agreements to gain access to the following programs:

ReadSpeaker

ReadSpeaker is a text-to-speech program that can read more than fifty languages, highlight text as it reads, translate to other languages and has a simplified view. It can also be used with a keyboard Information about ReadSpeaker

SensusAccess

SensusAccess allows students and staff at higher education institutions to convert documents into accessible formats such as audiobooks, e-books and digital braille. More about SensusAccess

ZoomText

ZoomText is a program that enlarges text. More about ZoomText

Acrobat Pro

Acrobat Pro is a paid English-language program that works on a home PC (or Mac), laptop or mobile device. It converts scanned documents, photographs, webpages and Microsoft Office files into PDF files. More about Acrobat Pro

Instructions for creating accessible PDF files in Acrobat Pro and checking accessibility

Texthelp Read & Write

Texthelp Read & Write is an English-language program that works with many databases. More about Texthelp

Claro software

Claro software works on Windows and Mac PCs, Chromebooks, tablets and smartphones. Claro software includes options for text-to-speech, scanning and reading PDF files. More about Claro software