Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

How to purchase my book

To purchase through Virtual Bookworm (my publisher) you can click Virtual Bookworm Publisher: Tech Psychologist's Guide or
Amazon no longer allows Illinois professionals to get credit for referrals to Amazon due to a sales tax dispute. I will be referring to Powell's in the near future.

What is that TinyURL notation that you see in my blog? For those who use a screen reader, the link that is hidden behind words like Tech Psychologist Guide remains hidden. However, screen readers can read aloud the website address, or URL, if it was produced by Also, sometimes these addresses are so long that they wrap around several lines or overlap into colored areas of a website that obscure the actual address. Intrigued? You can create your own tinyurl's at

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Text Aloud: Text to Speech for everyone, including multitaskers

One inexpensive text-to-speech software that I use regularly for proofreading is TextAloud. Here's a press release from, regarding their product:

Denver Professional Hears Books, Recipes and More with TextAloud and

CLEMMONS, NC and Denver, CO - Julie M. of Denver, Colorado is an accomplished musician, performer and social worker who loves to read, cook, podcast and surf the Internet - and whose blindness doesn't slow her down for even a moment. Thanks to tools like NextUp's Text to Speech software program TextAloud, and in conjunction with resources like, Julie can quickly and easily listen to everything from the latest bestsellers to online recipes.

TextAloud is an easy and affordable software program from NextUp Technologies ( that converts text into spoken audio files for listening on a PC or portable device. The program has become increasingly popular with users like Julie M., as well as blind and visually disabled users worldwide, thanks to its natural and human-sounding voices, a welcome alternative to the more traditional or robotic-sounding readers.

For individuals like Julie, is the perfect complement to TextAloud. Bookshare is an online community that dramatically increases access to books for individuals who are visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled, enabling the legitimate and legal sharing of book scans contributed by Bookshare members as well as directly from publishers. TextAloud Text to Speech software works seamlessly with this resource, as it enables Bookshare members to then export those books to audio files that can be played on anything from computers to iPods® and other portables. The text read aloud via TextAloud offers high-quality, realistic and human-sounding voices which are a far cry from the less naturalistic, more 'robotic-sounding' voices of decades past.

"I love to read, and with, for only $50 a year, I can download all the books I want," Julie comments. "And by using TextAloud to read them aloud to me, I get voices that are better and much more interesting than those for other screen readers." Julie's favorite voices with TextAloud include such premium voice choices as 'Heather' from Acapela®, 'Ray' from AT&T Natural Voices™, and 'Paul' from NeoSpeech®.

"TextAloud also captures the Clipboard," says Julie, "which is handy when doing internet research." TextAloud also easily saves files to MP3 and WMA formats, which is especially useful for Julie's busy schedule not only as a social worker, but as a musician and performer as well. "It's perfect for commuters and others on the go," she adds. Julie is also an avid podcaster, so when she does research for her show, she listens to web and e-mail content via TextAloud, and also uses the program to save the content for later use and review as well.

But TextAloud isn't just for books. As an avid cook, Julie also cleverly uses TextAloud to read her recipes aloud from the Internet or her other favorite resources. She then easily plays back the files while cooking in the kitchen on her MP3 player or via a dub she has made to cassette tape, to remind herself of the ingredients and directions.

Lisa Friendly, Manager of for Benetech, is delighted to see that Bookshare subscribers like Julie are pioneering the ways in which TextAloud can be used to optimize their reading experience by tailoring it to their individual preferences. "What a great idea to have the recipe read to you while you're cooking, or to be able to continue reading your book while you're folding the laundry. With a naturalistic sounding voice, the experience doesn't diminish from one reading method to the next." ...Highly useful for students wanting to maximize study time or listen on the go -- and perfect for Back to School season -- TextAloud has been featured in The New York Times, PC Magazine, Writer's Digest, on CNN, and more. Hailed by critics and users alike, TextAloud is priced at just $29.95, and is compatible with systems using Windows (R) 98, NT, 2000, XP and VISTA. The program is available for fast, safe and secure purchase via

Read more:

In addition to those with visual disabilities, those with learning disabilities, cognitive challenges, and anyone who struggles to read unaccommodated text, can benefit from using TextAloud.

With its great price and multitude of uses, this product certainly points to universal design, a concept that serves a broad spectrum of society, not just those with disabilities (curb cuts are a great example of universal design, as they not only accommodate wheelchairs, but they also help those with strollers and rolling luggage. Here are some ways I've used TextAloud:
1. Reviewing text notes (converted to mp3) before a big presentation while taking a shower or cooking
2. Proofing a letter, book, or essay (hearing the words while seeing them helps me to catch errors)
3. Listening to a digital book while running on my treadmill, either while viewing the book on my laptop, or by listening to the TextAloud's mp3 conversion of the book.

How many ways can you think of to use this software?

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