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Voice Dream Reader App

As print is now malleable and can be presented in many ways, digital media and technology is an enabler to learning for many people

Students are not a homogenous group. This has recently been identified by research into brain activity whilst learning. To therefore ensure an equal playing field for all learners, flexible teaching techniques combined with technologies should be embedded in the curricula.

This post will look at Voice Dream Reader, a Text to Speech (TTS) app for mobile devices. As the name suggests, TTS readers convert text into speech and have already been available for a long time. They were initially developed as an assistive technology to enable people with a wide range of disabilities to have access to text. Interestingly however, the technology is now also being used by people without disability. TTS readers have been continually improving over the years. For example voices now sound more natural than ever, having lost those ‘robotic' tones they used to have.

Many theorists will argue that students who can listen to text will remain engaged. This means more positive learning experiences and outcomes. TTS readers therefore empower students who, in the past, wouldn't have been able to access text without this technology.

Voice Dream Reader is a voice-based mobile app so that allows people to listen to whatever text they choose. The app has an easy interface and is very accessible. It can read PDFs, Word documents, e-books as well as web pages offline. It's integrated with other apps and services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Gutenberg and Bookshare. Any document saved in these can be accessed by Voice Dream Reader to be read. However it's important to note that, because of licensing rules, Voice Dream Reader will not read Kindle, iBooks and Nook.

Users can listen to text as many times as they want, providing further clarity and enhancing the learning experience. The user can play, pause, rewind and fast forward sentences, paragraphs and pages. The device will remember where it has stopped, allowing the user to resume exactly where they left off. As mentioned earlier, there have been many improvements over the years including more than 78 different voices to choose from, and in 20 different languages. The voice speed can also be altered as the user pleases. Voice Dream Reader has the ability to highlight each word or line as it's being read and will even continue to read when it has been exited and the screen is locked.

As print is now malleable and can be presented in many ways, digital media and technology is an enabler to learning for many people. Students certainly seem to thrive in learning environments that provide them with choices and options for accessing their learning.