Let Me Read to You

While I am out playing and having all sorts of visually impaired old lady adventures, Lin is at her house laboriously looking on the Internet for the coolest stuff she can find for us. Sometimes I get an email suggesting I buy something and check it out. [Lin/Linda: wait, I never, er, rarely suggest you buy anything.  Sometimes I recommend a free version of something & you choose to buy it.  For the record & just sayin’.]

OK. I try to do my part. I purchased the $9.99 upgraded version of NaruralReader. NaturalReader is a mobile text-to-speech app. It comes highly rated by the VIP commentator on Accessible Media, Inc. His show is App TV and his name is, Richard Harlow. NaturalReader comes in a free version, but after my problems with free Aipoly, I decided to spend some money. [Hate to interrupt again but don’t confuse this with an app called Natural Reader (space between the words) which is a text-to-speech reader for Windows 10.]

NaturalReader is available for both Android and Apple devices. It is able to convert the following types of documents from text to speech: PDF, PowerPoint, word documents and webpages. It offers 50 different voices in 20 languages.

When I saw NaturalReader was able to link to Dropbox and read PowerPoint, I got very interested. We keep our DBT PowerPoint in Dropbox and it would be cool to have the slides read to me when I am teaching. Unfortunately it is an extremely large file and took forever. Although I was told the files ‘exists’, I was not able to pull it up to be read. I seem to need someone with a lot more computer savvy than I have to accomplish this one even though I believe it can be done. It may have something to do with needing PowerPoint actually on my tablet.

Although the PowerPoint part of things has not yet worked so well, I was able to link into my Google Drive and everything I have written for the website became available to be read aloud by NaturalReader. I had it reading this page and by noticing the reading ‘mistakes’ the voice was making, I discovered I had some editing to do. Ooops.

Supposedly this thing reads eBooks. I am trying to navigate through. It appears that the heading ‘Webpages’ will allow you to go to several different free reading sites including Gutenberg.org which offers free, classic novels. There is also a link that will get you to news website the app will read to you. For our friends in Britain – and Anglophiles everywhere – there is a link to the BBC. They also offer a couple of American news sources. There is an option for navigating and reading websites of your own choosing should you prefer.

There are sync-with-desktop and input options that I am not figuring out, but I have only been playing with the thing for an hour or so. Part of the reason may be I have it loaded on my iPad and I have limited word processing options on that. If loaded on a laptop, it might be a different story.

There does not appear to be a camera option with NaturalReader. If you have a menu or something else that’s print media only it would appear you need something like the KNFB Reader. Just the same it would seem NaturalReader can save someone a fortune in the difference in price between eBooks and audiobooks. I suspect in many cases the app would pay for itself through one purchase.

To wrap this up, I have played with NaturalReader for about an hour and in that time I am impressed. The price is good – either free or $9.99 – and the quality is good. If I can figure out a few basics, the app will be of great benefit to me, especially in class.

Try it and see what you think. Available in the App Store (Apple) and Google Play (Android), of course.

written June 26th, 2017

Next: I Want to Be a Mutant

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