Thanks to Kate Olsen for the lead to Read the Words, a text to audio site that enables users to have text read out by computer voices. Once you create a free account you can then upload your document for reading and it will convert the text to an audio file. Once your recordings are saved they can be downloaded as mp3 files or even embedded in a blog.
This is a useful resource for education. I see its value in downloading text files such as lecture notes, revision notes and study material to an ipod. The user can then listen as they travel, exercise or whatever. This is a great easy way to prepare for exams and no-one will know you are studying! Make sure the notes are not too abbreviated as the computer readers will have difficulty with abbreviations such as ‘eg’ (better to type the word ‘example’ for the reader). You can slow the voice reader down and select from a variety of voices for your reading.
This is also a great resource for visually impaired learners and therefore has potential in the special education environment.
To record, after opening an account, click on create a new reading, select your document type (such as Word or PDF), upload the file and follow the instructions for converting. (Note: It will not accept Word 2007, so convert to 2003 before saving). Once you have your recording made, you can click on download to mp3. If when you do this you get the reading only and no download happening (which is what happened to me) follow the directions that the nice people at Read the Words sent to me:
Simply click the download mp3 button. Some browsers are set up to just play the reading. IF you are having this problem, right click the download button, and choose save as. You can then specify the location where you want to save the mp3. You can save it to your computer, and then put it on your ipod, save it in itunes, or plug in your ipod and save it directly on there.
I am always pleasantly surprised that there are real people who offer great support for tools that are available on the Web. I wish some customer service reps were as helpful.
Click the play button to hear Michael, a computer reader from Read the Words reading this post.