iPhone & iPad Apps for the Blind &VisuallyImpaired

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New in iOS 8: Start Text-To-Speech Easily with Speak Screen

iOS 8 includes some new accessibility features and many improvements to existing features. One of the new features is called Speak Screen which allows users to quickly have text on the screen spoken aloud using text-to-speech. Speak Screen is included in addition to Speak Selection which allows users to highlight text and press speak to have content read aloud.





Unlike Speak Selection, which requires text to be highlighted first, before reading the text aloud,  Speak Screen does not require users to highlight the text they wish to have spoken. Especially for longer articles or emails, this highlighting process could be time consuming and frustrating.

Speak Screen solves the problem by speaking all text on the screen with a simple two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen. After swiping down with two fingers, text starts to be read aloud with text-to-speech, and the Speak Screen menu appears on top of your current app. This menu allows you to stop and start speech, adjust the text-to-speech speaking rate, and navigate through the text being spoken.  Instead of having to re-highlight text if you want to hear a paragraph again, Speak Screen offers simple navigation buttons. The menu can also be hidden to allow full view of the screen and accessed again through a small floating button. Just like Speak Selection, Speak Screen has the option to highlight text as it is spoken, making it easier for sighted readers to follow the text as it is being spoken.

Just like all of the accessibility features in iOS 8, Speak Screen can use the Alex text-to-speech voice which many users prefer. While Alex is a very high quality text-to-speech voice beware, it takes up almost one gigabyte of storage. Speak Screen can also be activated through Siri by saying "speak the screen." To enable Speak Screen on a device with iOS 8 go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech and then toggle on Speak Screen. Speak Screen is only available for devices running iOS 8 or higher.