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There are many assistive technology tools that will help convert text to speech. The following ones have many capabilities that would be beneficial to students who need auditory help when reading. Often literature selections from the basal readers have CDs that are used to assist students, but there are not the same tools available when reading other text. Now it is possible to take written directions to tests or quizzes, picture books, novels, student writing, website, PDF, or any text and convert it to speech with these helpful technology tools.
Read Please is a free text-to-speech download. If there is a PDF, this site can help convert it to speech. Open source software is software that can be used for free. Just go to the “search for software.”
For more assistive technology, visit the del.icio.us account by clicking on the link on the left toolbar.
Blabberize is a Web 2.0 tool that can help take any photo and make it talk! After creating a free account, use your voice or your students’ voices and a picture of your choice. Just follow the easy instructions on the Blabberize site to line up the talking points on the photo.
Tools needed are: a microphone, possibly a digital camera, or saved photos. If you have access to a flickr account, use those from creative commons or from other copyright safe photo galleries. Click on the top del.icio.us link on the left toolbar for more photo or clipart sites that are copyright safe. Make sure to have parental permission before using students’ voices or photos!
Ideas of using it in the classroom: Math–problem of the day, Language Arts–book talk, Social Studies–famous talking head, Science–explain a science experiment, Religion–prayer recitation. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Other helpful hints: use photos that are large enough to add a mouth that talks, use photos that have an image that is facing forward (profile shots do not work well), and use a loud voice with no background noise when recording.
Check out the Blabberize example done by a lively MSS student. Who is the prairie dog doing math?