Using text to speech tools from Microsoft

add speak to quick access barIn MS Office programs you can get instant access to text to speech via the  ‘speak’ button by using the Quick Action toolbar in Word and other Office programs.  Go to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar > Choose All Commands from the drop down menu > scroll down to Speak > add

 

Craig Mill added “I also like the option to create a customised or personal Tab in Word’s Ribbon with essential tools such as Page Background Colour, Spelling and Grammar, Speak etc.  You can also turn off all the other Tabs so you’re only left with your own set of tools – makes Word’s Ribbon a bit more manageable. To learn more go to Making the Most of Microsoft Word 2016 to Support Learners with Literacy Difficulties – a New Guide!

Literacy buttons on a small Office ribbon

 

 

 

 

“Immersive Reading Tools which were originally available in OneNote (and required a download) are now available in Office 365 – Word Online and OneNote as standard – no installation required. It’s also cross platform so will work on a Mac with Safari browser.

To access the Learning Tools in Word Online or OneNote Online, log into your account, open Word or OneNote, go to the View menu and click Immersive Reader.
• Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting – although no option (that I can see) to change the voice. Still, the voice is ‘okayish’.• Spacing—a range of spacing options to help declutter pages. • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.• Parts of Speech —Supports writing instruction and grammar comprehension by identifying verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Immersive Reader also has options to change the page colour, font size, style etc. ”

For those using Outlook on the web, Immersive Reader will also provide text to speech support 

Thanks to Craig Mill who has kindly added this strategy to our list of text to speech ideas and has a CALL Scotland blog with yet more ideas.

Free Apps to assist with colour blind issues in a pharmacy lab, with graphs and dissection

Here are some useful, free applications I came across for a needs assessment I have just completed.

colour blind assistantColorblind Assistant –  PC – Hover mouse over pixel in any running application – Excel/Powerpoint/PDF/Word etc, and the program displays the colours name.

“Colorblind Assistant is free software that instantly picks the color from the mouse pointer, providing you with a written name of the color, as well as other useful data such as RGB values and bar graphs, brightness and saturation.”

color ID appColor ID Free – iPhone and Android – Point phone or tablet device at any object and software displays name of currently viewed colour.

“Color Identifier uses the camera on your iPhone or iPod touch to speak the names of colors in real-time. It’s an Augmented Reality app for discovering the names of the colors around you!”

My student was a Pharmacology student who was having difficulty with graphs, lab equipment, dissection. Tested the phone app with various items I had around, and it was very good. As it is on a portable device, it is ideal for lab/field work.

 

Tim Symons | Training Co-ordinator/Needs Assessor/AT Trainer | Access SUMMIT

KNFB Reader app – Take a photo then have text read aloud

KNFB iphone app

knfbReader by Sensotec nv – View of the iPhone screen with a scanned document and output

I received a free version of the app through my role on the British Dyslexia Association’s New Technologies Committee and I love it!  For my own personal use (dyslexia rather than VI), I’ve historically relied on apps such as Prizmo or ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon). I started using this app a few months ago and for me this app is a big step up for two reasons:
1. Exceptionally fast user experience
2. Exceptional accuracy

1. Exceptionally fast user experience

The app’s purpose is essentially the same as Prizmo / ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon) / CapturaTalk.  However, the main advantage for me is that the time from snapping the photo and to starting to hear it being read aloud is a couple of seconds on my old iPhone 4S, and instantaneous on my iPhone 6.  They do this by:
a) Having an auto-read function, so as soon as it has text from the photo it reads aloud to you, without you having to press another button.
b) Starting to read before the whole page has been analysed.  As soon as it’s recognised the first sentence it starts to read that aloud.

The user interface is really nice – open the app, hold it above the page and press one button!  Then sit back and relax while the page is read to you.  This is a big plus for day-to-day use.

2. Exceptional accuracy

From my non-scientific playing with the app, the OCR accuracy appears to be at least as good as (and I think better than) ClaroSpeak’s OCR addon, and it is much better than Prizmo.

So money-no-object it wins hands down for me – an ideal example of an app that does only one thing and does it very well. Cost £79.99 for the iPhone
Neil Cottrell
LexAble

Need to spell check a word? Say it to your phone!

siri screengrabOne of the easiest ways of checking for the spelling of a single word when on the move and not requiring a whole document to be spell checked is to say the word into a smart phone or tablet. As long as you have one of the fairly recent versions of Android, iOS iPhone or iPad or Windows, they all have built in speech recognition.  I am showing an example of how it works on an iPhone with Siri and this iOS5 hot tip has been on the web since 2012. There is an Android tutorial on using Speech to Text and one for Windows Surface speech recognition

I said to Siri – “spell /filosofical/” (spelt as said) – It not only repeated the word back to me with text to speech, but also gave me the correct spelling and dictionary definition.  If I just said the word it gave me the text to speech version back and a collection of links such as the word in Wikipedia.

This comes thanks to Annie – dyslexic researcher, University of Southampton.

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics

Autograph in trial mode for box and whisker plots.

“I simply went onto Google and wrote in ‘Autograph’ and downloaded the trial version – this is 30 days and is free, or you can pay for a proper version. I believe if you get the trial version, you can still use all the functions.

Box and Whisker plot

Normality Box Plot

For the purposes of my essay I needed to use a box and whisker plot, something that is very difficult to do on Excel! I used mean data from Excel, to create the is box and whisker plot.  To create a box and whisker plot you open up Autograph, and click on the button FILE- then new 1D statistics page – Then right click anywhere on the grid and click the button enter raw data- you should see a column that is named Data with an ‘x’ below- enter your means from Excel by copying and pasting into the column which is marked with an ‘x’ above- then press OK- after this in the bottom left hand corner- you should have a caption saying ‘RAW DATA 1’ right click this and then pick the option ‘Box and Whisker Diagram’ it will then create your box and whisker plot!

You can then play around, changing colour, you can also click on the screwdriver button –  (in yellow) and then click’ labels’- this will allow you to put axis and label them.

I have only used it very basically as this was the purpose for my assignment- but I am sure the more you play around with it- the more charts and options you will have.”

Hannah  course : Prof. Prac. in Health Sciences, University of Southampton

Here is a YouTube version –Box and Whisker Plot in Autograph

Subtitles for translating video content – English not your first language?

“When you watch videos that are not in your first language – if there are subtitles turn these into your chosen language to help explain the content.”

turning on captions

YouTube has closed captioning or subtitles on some videos and the video called “How to extract YouTube Subtitles (Interactive Transcript) in 2 minutes [HD]” illustrates some of the difficulties that occur with automatic captioning – A Frenchman speaking in English and when you view the subtitles by selecting the small list icon on the bottom right of the video player you will see that some of the words do not match what has been said but you can also translate the words into your chosen language.  The results will be variable!  In this video you will see how you can take the transcript and improve the results.

iTunes U free app – open courses useful for extra information

course title

contents

slidesThe iTunes U app from the Apple Store has lots of open courses.  It is very useful for my studies – you can listen to the course at the same time as looking at the slides in iBooks.

Henry – Web and Internet Science

It works on an iPhone and iPad – you need to register on the Apple store. Many of the courses are American. ‘Internet Economics’ as a lecture is an example from one of the courses and you have a podcast plus slides from Stanford University – “Future of the Internet by Ramesh Johari”  You can speed up the voice up to 2x, pause the lecture and return to it later and rewind in short steps.

Coach’s Eye – Thinking Olympics – sports and practicals – video annotation

Coach's Eye app“Coach’s Eye is an iOS5 app available through iTunes for £3 that can be used on the iPhone iPad and iPod. It allows you to add audio and visual feedback to new and imported videos. Particularly useful for sports and performing arts although it could be used with providing feedback on any visual practical process e.g. silversmithing techniques. For some good examples of the app in use watch the YouTube video

The swimming and karate kick examples are fairly good.”

Kevin Brunton, Going mobile, apps and devices (download docx) ADSHE.

Colours for Presentations

“It wasn’t until I had my vision tested that I discovered I had a green colour deficiency and so colour overload is a problem, such as occurs in some pie-charts. I tend to use blue as this is usually a safe colour for presentations and when developing web pages if you have a colour deficiency – blue, pale colours.  When items are highlighted, the text goes white on a blue background.

To show you how this looks I have made a PowerPoint presentation about colour deficiencies – it is available for download from Slideshare.”

Jim – Computer Science.