Here are four “talking machines” that will read selected text aloud – a boon when working with many different types of students. The first three are Windows-based and the fourth is for Mac.
The download is a little confusing because the Free and Pro versions are not separate downloads; when you start the installation you choose only the Free version. The program opens a text window like Notepad or SimpleText and reads whatever is pasted in the window. There are several voices and the speed and font size are variable. You can also download a free Spanish-speaking plugin. In working with teachers, I've found the trick is to have something to paste in the window! I need to have some links to stories online ready for the demonstration, such as “Stories for Children.”
2) Awesome Talkster
This program is a web browser that talks! It will read either the whole page or the selected text (it's better to habitually use the selection method because it's rather tedious to listen to all the nav-bar and ad buttons being read!). It also has a variety of voices and speeds.
3) Talking box pro
This program (the company that made it appears to have gone out of business) installs an "assistant" (rather like Mr PaperClip) in the
Windows TaskBar that, when activated, will read any highlighted text in any program window: simply select the text you want to be read and copy it into clipboard. Talking box will automatically start reading it.
4) Mac OSX built-in Text Reader
Go to System Preferences, click on Speech, select Spoken User
Interface, Check the box "Selected text when the key is pressed" and click on the "Set Key" button. A window will appear prompting you to select a key, for example, the F12 key. Now when you highlight text in any application and press F12, it will read it aloud to you. To change the voice, click on Default Voice under Speech and select your favorite voice.
Next Tip: Lexile and Reading Levels