What exactly is Assistive Technology and how does it assist? Text to voice (TTS) is the usage of recorded voice (usually recorded, but not always) as an accompaniment to printed text. It’s one way of enabling those who have trouble using spoken text to do simple tasks which require both their eyes and mind. Such things as controlling a computer, operating handheld devices such as digital cameras, and operating cell phones are all but impossible for some people, and TTS makes all of these tasks possible.
When considering what types of disabilities individuals with disabilities may be able to benefit from TTS, it’s important to remember that no two people are alike. Those with visual impairments will most likely benefit from text to voice applications. This is because such devices are intended to allow the user to read and type without having to take a visual break. For those who are unable to see, or are Dyslexic, reading text on screen can be difficult – to say the least.
However, what some may not realize is that there are a variety of different types of assistive technology which can be used to make text-based tasks easier. For example, there are text-to-speech recognition devices which allow deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to take notes in class, complete research papers, or even operate digital electronic devices like computers and cell phones. There are also devices which allow people with learning disabilities to access textbooks and curriculum on the Internet. These computerized devices are sometimes referred to as “e-books” or “e-courses.”
There are many different products available on the market today that allow people with speech and/or hearing impairments to effectively communicate. One type of such technology, known as text-to-speech software (also known as “e-texting”), allows people with impaired voices to speak text using appropriate vocal intonation and body language. To use a text-to-speech software, all an individual has to do is speak the text to the specially designed microphone attached to the computer of the person with hearing or speech impairments. The microphone converts the spoken words into sound, so that every individual who purchases the software will be able to hear and understand each word clearly. Text-to-speech software does not require any sort of manual input from the user; rather, it simply receives verbal instructions from the user and translates these into actions or other commands.
Another popular type of Assistive Technology, which makes life easier for people with learning disabilities, is called “E-Learning.” This term refers to the development of online training programs that include multimedia presentations – often including text, audio, and video – for educational or training purposes. In this case, instead of being delivered to the student in the form of traditional textbooks and handouts, this training content is delivered in digital form, which can be stored on portable electronic media, CD-ROMs, or Internet websites.
In addition to helping individuals with learning disabilities and those who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate, Assistive Technology can also help kids with an auditory processing disorder to learn normal, everyday activities, like how to ride a bike, play sports, or read. Many technological devices for children with auditory processing disorder can teach them how to recognize and use objects, pictures, and words; for example, by being introduced to a red apple, the child can learn that all red apples are red. Likewise, by learning how to spell the word “apple,” the child will become familiar with the alphabet and the sounds associated with the letters. By playing a text-to-speech software created for children with auditory processing disorder, the young person can easily learn how to say the alphabet and the words associated with it.
Some devices designed for use by individuals with autism and other learning disabilities can also aid those individuals with a text-to-speech device to communicate. The text-to-speech software on some devices may help kids with a processing disorder understand words that they might not otherwise recognize or comprehend. Additionally, the software may also enable an individual with a processing disorder to read text aloud, as opposed to reading it silently. This type of technology can be especially helpful if a child with such a disorder is unable to read silently, as this could hinder their ability to properly communicate.
As technologies have improved over time, many new options have been created for those with auditory processing disorder and other learning disabilities. These options include text-to-speech programs, whiteboards, computers, iPods, and text-to-speech software. As long as a person has access to an Internet connection and a volume setting, it is possible to use an assistive technology device to help with everyday activities, like learning how to ride a bike or identifying common objects. These choices can provide some relief from the stress associated with coping with an auditory processing disorder. However, these devices should be considered just as much a therapeutic investment as any of the other options, due to the special needs involved.