This blog entry is to sing the praises of text-to-speech software based upon personal experience!
Some of you know that my son has a language based learning disability that was identified in first grade. Well, he is now an almost 6 foot tall, junior in high school, thinking about his future. He has struggled academically but understands that he does need to put forth more effort than his peers to succeed.
Last night we were reading the short story that was assigned to him by his English teacher (Sophistication by Sherwood Anderson for those of you curious about the details). His ability to read more fluently, even the numerous multisyllabic words was immediately apparent! I mentioned this to him and he believes that his reading has improved as well. (Wow!)
So how has this happened despite the lack of specific reading remediation for the past two years?
What he believes has helped him is the use of text-to-speech software which we then convert to MP3 format so that he can listen to it on his iPod. He typically has the printed text in front of him so that he can follow along. Sometimes, he will use the computer which highlights each word as it reads it. We have customized everything - voice, rate, highlighting color, etc.
We use a variety of different programs including Kurzweil 3000, Read and Write Gold, TextAloud and even the text-to-speech built into Word 2003. It's incredibly exciting to me to see this kind of progress and to see that he believes his reading has improved is the best part of all. He knows what helps him to succeed (and it does help to have a mom who seeks out his help with new software.)