Reading Solutions

Text to Speech

For those of us who read slowly, technology can vastly improve the ability to comprehend the written word; I’m living proof. I have the computer to read to me using Text to Speech technology. I read books on my cell phone, where the narrow screen with only five words on a line, helps my eye track across the short line of text without loosing my place, and I can, at the touch of a button, change the text size and or color. This has sped up my painfully slow reading quite a bit. Most of the time I have my Mac read aloud what is on the page. I’ve set-up a hotkey to start reading whatever is selected.

On a Windows machine the two programs that I recommend each cost $35. The first is
TextAloud, and the second is Expressivo. Each has benefits and drawbacks. If you get the AT&T voices with the Text Aloud, you’ll be amazed how human like they are. There is a bundle special which gets you two voices for $25, a real bargain.
On a Macintosh computer, ( I’m a very long time Mac user), this works the same way, but the ability to read the text aloud is built-in to the Mac operating system. Extra voices for both platforms are available. I have used many programs, but bought Text Aloud for my brother, who is a Windows user.

Other tech reading options

Using the Kindle app for books or documents.
On an iphone/touch/ipad, the text size is widely adjustable. When using an ipad, the books purchased from Apple are completely accessible, including described images for the non-visual reader. Amazon makes free reader software for Windows, and Mac computers, iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices.
Library ebooks on IOS devices and computers. Here is a link which
explains the steps for downloading the epub and PDF digital books from public libraries. Try the free Bluefire Reader for reading these books. Press Release from OverDrive about downloadable digital books.

For people with limited hand movement, reading a book can be very difficult. Even turning pages can be a real problem. If the book closes, getting it open again and back to the correct page might be nearly impossible. With a touch screen device like the ipad/iphone/ the page turning is done by touching the edge of the screen. You can use a finger, your wrist, nose, or tongue if need be. There are also styluses which can be attached to a mouth stick.

Audio Books

There are many new options for “reading books”. I’ve been a member of for many years. If a book is not available at my public library, I check on Amazon for the audible book. Many times I buy the Kindle book for $1.99 and then add the audible book for another $1.99. I’ve bought dozens of audible books that way. It’s less than a burger and lasts much longer with no calories. is a subscription service which provides downloadable audio books. These downloaded files can be played on a computer or an mp3 player.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides free downloadable books and digital book players for people who qualify as “print disabled”. NLS books are also provided on cartridges which are sent through the mail. RFB&D (Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic) now called Learning Ally also has downloadable files, which can be read on a computer or transferred to a portable player. The most accessible way to read audio books is with the various software DAISY book readers for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

If you are a slow reader, but don’t qualify for the NLS services, there are other free options. The public libraries have begun a download service. You check out the books for 21 days, just like printed books, and listen to them on your computer or transfer the books to a portable player. Our public library in Nashville, TN has a large collection of e-audio books. If the one I want isn’t in the collection, I can request that the library get the book, and usually they do.