Speech Tools for LIFE Skills-
Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text
Okay Google Now. Or maybe you ask Siri. Speech tools for LIFE Skills and just for life are everywhere! Within the past decade, there has been a heated debate about teaching kids to print and also to write in cursive. Why not teach typing? That was the argument. Now I feel the argument should be: Why? Don’t we all use speech-to-text anyway?
All Around Us
I ask my phone to go things all the time. I dictate my emails when I’m driving. I talk my texts. I ask Google to find things without ever typing. The option to speech-to-text and text-to-speech is becoming so prevalent and can be such a great tool for everyone… but students who have problems with writing (either because of struggles with form or just function) could really have an assistive technology tool that bridges the gap. Lots of our higher functioning students in LIFE Skills have the ability to speak responses without the ability to write independently. That is where this kind of technology support can help.
How Do I Use It?
Seven or eight students in a classroom all trying to use their own text to speech app or program is not successful (believe me, I have tried). I have found success when only a few students work on this kind of activity at once. You can, however, have several students using text-to-speech with headphones all at the same time with minimal disruptions.
What Should I Use?
I have tried a couple of Google Chrome Speech-to-Text extensions that are free. This means I can put it on my computer at school for students and parents can put it on their computers at home. This usually means they will have some extra practice at home to use the software. I have tried several different extensions and applications with differently abled students with some inconsistent results. A lot of your success in the classroom will depend on background noise, student intelligibility, and sometimes overall program effectiveness. Try the ones below and see what works for you. I especially love ReadWrite for the simple tool of reading web pages aloud when navigating!
ReadWrite is a free Google Extension and the tool is available when you are working in Google Chrome. The one feature that is the biggest benefits is the way that it reads web pages when you are surfing. I have several students that are able to sound out initial sounds, but not able to type or spell whole words. They use this skill to type in one or two letters and let Google predict the page- but with ReadWrite, the choices are read aloud. Also, Google results pages are able to be read. This is a total game changer. Check out this video to see it in action: HERE and to see all the tools available with ReadWrite, check out the video below.
I am in no way paid by the makers of ReadWrite and endorse them without any compensation.
Where Do I Look?
These extensions can be found in the Google Chrome Store. Not sure how to find these? Click here to see a YouTube Video on how to install free extensions.