This Sunday we wanted to share the Speak text-to-speech (TTS) command that is available in Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote (2010 & 2013) and Office 365. This command enables you to listen to written text spoken aloud in the language of your version of Microsoft Office. The English version is already installed and is available to add to the quick Access Toolbar or a Customized Ribbon.
Often teachers will ask students to reread their writing for errors and/or read their compositions aloud to see if it sounds right. A struggling reader may attempt this strategy only to find that reading and listening at the same time can be very challenging and seemingly impossible.
Playing back the written text in spoken words can be a very powerful literacy tool. A user can highlight words they have typed and then select the Speak Command and focus on listening to the way the words, sentences, and paragraphs sound together. With a little coaching and peer modeling, struggling writers can soon hear if the writing is correct or makes sense and make corrections as needed.
Another use of the TTS command is providing a tool to enable struggling presenters a different modality for giving presentations or participating in show and tell. Having slides or a document read aloud to the audience through the use of TTS can release some of the pressure of standing up and talking in front an audience.
A third use of TTS comes to mind for individuals that do not speak or cannot use their own voice to communicate due to a disability. TTS can empower people with communication disorders or provide AAC users with other voice output options to actively participate in literacy activities.
You can add the Speak command to your Quick Access Toolbar or place it on a Customized Ribbon.
Note: To view any of the graphics in this blog in a larger size, click on the graphics in the photo gallery at the end of the blog or download the tutorial PDF document.
You should now see the Speak Command on your Home Tab on the ribbon.
Type a word, sentence or paragraph and select the text you want read aloud by highlighting it with your cursor. Make sure your computer volume is not muted and click on the Speak icon in your Quick Access Toolbar or on your Customized Ribbon. You should hear the text being read aloud.