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Read Aloud

Read aloud

The ability to have text read aloud is a vital access point for many students, and a helpful support to others. Students who may have challenges seeing or decoding text, including those with visual impairments, dyslexia, or learning a second language, use text-to-speech technology as well as recorded and in-person human voice to access rigorous academic content. One of our student testers noted that she would use a read aloud feature while reading along with the text in order to stay focused in a noisy environment.


 

Tools that read text aloud will often also highlight the text as it is read.

Research

Read-aloud features may support students with reading and other disabilities on reading tasks: 

Having assessments read aloud by a person or text-to-speech technology may improve scores: 

Students’ preferences for read-aloud options vary. In one study , two high school students with vision impairments who opted to use a read-aloud feature on an assessment reported they liked it. In interviews for another study, 5 of 12 students with dyslexia said that they did not like to use a screen reader because is was distracting or it read too quickly. 

There may be ways to increase users’ satisfaction with read-aloud features:

Related Guidelines

The features of the CISL tools are related to existing guidelines and best practices, including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines. The feature of embedded comprehension checks is connected to:

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines

Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG)

WCAG does not require that a read-aloud feature be provided, but many of its guidelines are aimed towards making sure that content will work with read aloud software that the user might have (ie, a screen reader).  For instance guidelines about avoiding images of text, providing expanded forms for abbreviations, and so forth will allow a screen reader to work smoothly with the content.

 

Read aloud examples  

See how TextHelp’s Read&Write for Education provides Read Aloud and other supports.

Screen readers like JAWS, VoiceOver, and NVDA make it possible for people with visual impairments to access the internet, emails, and computer documents.

Raising the Floor compiled a list of over 75 Read Aloud tools, as well as some supporting research.