The iPad is a great device for assistive technology and text to speech is one of the most often used accessibility feature by teachers in special education and general education classrooms. Many teachers are not aware that it exists, but it does, and it has evolved to become a very usable solution with lots of valuable options to customize it to meet your needs. Here’s what you need to know to get started with text to speech functionality on your iPad.
How to Enable Text to Speech on the iPad
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech and turn on Speak Selection and Speak Screen by sliding the toggle switch to the right.
- Next, adjust the speed of the speech by sliding the speaking rate slider to the right (or the left) until the voice reads at an acceptable pace for your needs.
- Turn on Highlight Content. This option highlights words on the screen as they are read aloud by the iPad. It is a great feature that is a real boon for students and is proven to help improve reading skills.
Note: As much as I like the option to highlight words as they are spoken, I do not always have the best of luck getting this to work reliably. Your mileage may vary, especially on certain apps/websites, but it is still worth turning on.
How to Use Speak Selection on the iPad
- Speak selection will read selected text aloud. To try it out, open a website and press and hold on a word and then release to select some text.
- Next, move the blue bars on either side of the word to make a larger selection.
- Tap Speak to start the text to speech and stop it at any time by tapping Pause.
How to Use Speak Screen on the iPad
- Speak screen reads everything on your screen without the need to select any text. To try it out, open a website and swipe down from the top bezel on the iPad with two fingers.
- The iPad will begin reading all the text it finds on the screen, but you can control the narration with the on-screen media controls.
- The media controls will auto-hide after a few seconds, but you can bring them back or hide them yourself by tapping the left arrow on the side of the controls.