Written by THRIVE Program Teacher, Tyson Schoeber • Last Updated: 08-21-2014

Text-to-speech software reads the words on a computer screen out loud. While the technology has been around for quite a long time, the "voices" used to sound robotic. That's no longer true! These days, the best digital voices can read almost any text with nearly perfect accuracy and even a surprising level of expression. They sound almost human.


Dictation software allows computers to type what people say to them. While dictation generally doesn't work well with kids, the programs are getting better all the time. Basic dictation features are built into the latest versions of the Mac and Windows operating systems. We continue to experiment with these tools but do not yet actively use them in THRIVE.

As a result, text-to-speech has become a valuable tool for kids with dyslexia — as well as anyone else who struggles with reading or writing. Although I am not dyslexic, I actually use text-to-speech as part of my own reading and writing.

THRIVE students are taught (and encouraged) to use it while doing web-based reading or research as well as during the editing stage of the Writing Process. If you've never used it before, this short Youtube video provides a good demo.

making it work

If you're using a Mac, you simply have to TURN ON the built-in text-to-speech function and choose a "Hot Key" to make it work. Yet you don't have to buy anything extra! Click here for detailed instructions.

If you're using a Windows PC, the situation is a little more complicated and you may have to purchase some additional software. Yet good text-to-speech options are available and it need not cost a lot of money. Click here for more information about some of the options.