Seeing AI for recognising things and reading out what it has found!

According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind.   It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you.  It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech.  It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description.  Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc.  Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.

Another college student called Veronica in USA has provided a very helpful Seeing AI review from a blind student’s point of view

Microsoft have produced a YouTube video about the Seeing AI app.

Thank you so much Stuart for providing this strategy.

Stuart Ball is an Assessor at the Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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.

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

Babelbar for reading aloud and changing the look of Facebook, Twitter and Google docs

“Babelbar works with Facebook, Twitter and Google docs.  It is useful if you do not have your own text to speech program.”

babelbar

 

google docs

Babelbar is an extension or add-on for internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari and appears over the web page.  You need to highlight the text first then it will speak.  It can change the colour background, font size and translate text.

 

 

 

Attendee at Accessing the Higher Ground Conference

Using howjsay . com to help with the pronunciation of complex words

howjsay screen grab

“Many of our students like to use the ‘howjsay’ website as part of their pre-reading of lecture notes. It gives an accurate pronunciation of unfamiliar technical terms, which can be used to prepare students for quick recognition when a word is said in a lecture. It also provides a multi-sensory input which will increase spelling accuracy. In addition, it can help students confidence in preparation for a presentation. Pronunciation can be practised to hopefully minimise slips and increase fluency.

Students have commented that it has a consistently higher accuracy level than some of the usual text to speech programs, which can struggle with technical words that are not phonetically regular.  It is particularly popular with our medics.  It has a clear and uncluttered layout and has the added benefit of not being license restricted so it can be used on many different pieces of hardware. Finally, as it is free so is available to students who are not DSA funded.”

This strategy was sent in via the Add a New Strategy form and we would like to thank The Disability Advisory Service at Imperial College 

Microsoft Office and OneNote hidden text to speech command!

A freely available way of using text to speech in Word, PowerPoint and OneNote and even
Excel is possible thanks to the Microsoft Office ribbon command menu.  You can select text and have it read back.  This idea does not offer all that specialist programs can provide such as text highlighting, pausing etc. but it is a quick way to hear how a word, phrase or sentence sounds when you want a quick check.
Adding speech in Word

If you go to Quick Access Toolbar in the ribbon you customise it by choosing More Commands – select ‘Quick Access toolbar’ from the menu on the left > Then go to the top of the right hand window and make sure you drop down the command list to ‘All commands’ otherwise you will not see ‘Speak’  in the list – Add it and return to your document.

Choose speech iconWhen you have typed something or have a file to read – highlight the text and select the new speech bubble that appears in your Quick Access toolbar.  The text will be read aloud in any voice you have chosen from the Control Panel > Speech recognition > text to speech. 

control panel screen grab

This comes thanks to Jean