Talking word processors (TWP) are writing software programs that
provide speech feedback as the student writes, echoing each letter
as it is typed and each word as the spacebar is pressed. Many of
these inexpensive programs, typically used to assist with writing,
also incorporate powerful tools for reading. Students with learning
disabilities find that having written material read aloud assists
them to better edit, comprehend and organize. Once any file (story
from a book, assignment, article, typed information, etc.) is imported
into a talking word processor, the text can be read aloud to the
student. These TWP programs offer other adjustments such as enlarging
the size of the text and changing the color of the foreground, background
and highlighting box to assist students in following along as the
text is read.
These TWPs offer the ability to select from a variety of different
voices, as well as adjust the rate and volume of the speech. Other
features may include spell check, highlighting rates, word prediction
or Internet connection. The table below offers program examples
of different voices and adjusted rates. Adjusting these features
can be very important for increased control and comprehension.
This TWP includes a spell check and several voices to choose from.
IntelliTalk II (IntelliTools)
Create or import text to be read in a variety of voices, fonts and
backgrounds. Includes pre-made activities and the ability to create
key palettes of graphics and word banks.
This new version of Ultimate Reader includes an Internet button
on its toolbar. When a student enters the Internet and brings up
a web page, it opens in the TWP. The student then uses the software's
commands to control the web page information read aloud.
Type & Talk (textHELP!
A simple, easy to use word processor will read text aloud, speak
suggested corrections to incorrectly spelled words, or homophones,
and help the user construct words and sentences using automatic
word prediction. Helps to develop and strengthen literacy abilities.
Text displayed in a talking word processor can be
read word by word, sentence by sentence, or from beginning to end.
As each word is spoken, it is "highlighted" or visually
presented in a different color that can be set by the user. The
TWP programs contain a variety of different voices for reading;
the speed of the speech can also be adjusted. This means of reinforcing
the look and sounds of words as they are read is very effective
for students with disabilities and early readers.
Another program feature that helps with editing and comprehending
information is the ability to re-read the text word by word, sentence
by sentence or the total page, as often as the students wants.
New information can be imported into a talking word processor in
a number of ways including:
- Typing directly into a file in the talking word processor.
- Copying text from another file or electronic resource (i.e.,
CD-ROM encyclopedia or Internet web page) and pasting it into
the word processor.
- Using a scanner with OCR software to scan any text into a file.
This converts printed text into a digital format.
Remember: Once text is in digital format it can be accessed
and manipulated in a variety of ways.
- Some teachers already create many of their instructional materials
on the computer; outlines, directions, worksheets. If the material
is created on a computer, it can be imported into a talking word
- Tests, quizzes and other assessments can be created, opened
or copied into a talking word processor. This provides the means
for independent student access.