Take a look inside 3 images
Pros: User friendly with solid text-to-speech capabilities; users can upgrade as features are needed.
Cons: Free app needs to be on the Internet to access the voices if using on mobile devices.
Bottom Line: The simple interface and natural-sounding voice can empower many types of kids, those with difficulties in reading or those with cognitive disabilities.
Teachers and support staff will likely want to discuss which level of the platform is the best fit for their students' needs. Of course, students with learning difficulties -- or those who are blind -- can use NaturalReader to gain greater access. However, a wide variety of those learning to become better readers could benefit from its use. Listening to books and other texts as they read can be a powerful strategy for just about any reader. Beyond boosting comprehension, this can give students more chances to process material in individualized ways.
When helping students revise their own writing, teachers may want to model for kids the process of editing and proofreading their work while listening to what they've written. Many students are reticent to read their own writing aloud, but hearing it read back to them -- in a natural voice -- may provide some natural engagement in the revision process.
NaturalReader is a downloadable text-to-speech tool for any student who struggles with reading, has a cognitive disability, or simply would benefit from having text read aloud. Once downloaded, the tool can be used anywhere by simply selecting -- or copying/pasting -- text. NaturalReader can read text aloud from a variety of digital sources. Through a floating toolbar, users can access Natural Reader in different applications to hear the text read aloud in a natural-sounding voice.
The free version is simple and can be used to read any text in a document, email or web browser. Within the paid versions, students can create a sound file of a text, as well as embed the tool within an applications toolbar. Other purchased features include spell checking, conversation control and an OCR (Optical Character Reader) function. In addition, NaturalReader Cloud is available as a subscription for a monthly fee (included coverage for multiple devices). Instructions aren't available within the tool, but they're listed on the developer's website, where there's also a series of YouTube tutorials.
As a free text-to-speech program, NaturalReader is an excellent choice. And, if you or your students have a need for the premium features, they're likely to be well worth the cost. Simplicity is by far NaturalReader's best feature -- it does precisely what it claims, and across a variety of applications. The voices are as natural-sounding as one would expect in a modern digital tool, and the floating toolbar is incredibly easy to use.
As students highlight text and hear it read aloud, they're likely to be excited about getting information that may have been more difficult to access before. That's a big deal. NaturalReader can be very empowering -- any student who could benefit from reading assistance is likely to find it both useful and engaging. While there are both mobile and desktop versions available (for Mac and PC), it's important to note that the free mobile version requires Internet access in order to function. But overall, if you're looking for a simple, free text-to-speech tool, NaturalReader is likely a natural choice.