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What is Text-To-Speech Technology?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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Text-to-speech refers to the conversion of written words to a voice output by means of speech synthesis, an artificial way of allowing access to verbal communication in an alternative form. Text-to-speech technology refers to software and hardware that provides speech output from text input. This technology can create words from stored phonemes—individual speech elements—and may also store whole words and phrases for better results. Text-to-speech technology has a wide range of applications.

At least some computer operating systems have text-to-speech technology included. Apple® Snow Leopard® has ‘Text to Speech’ settings available in both a ‘Speech’ section of ‘System Preferences’ and a ‘Universal Access’ section, which addresses the usefulness of the text-to-speech technology both as a convenience and as an aid to people with visual impairment. User choices concerning the text-to-speech technology include the voice used, the speaking rate, whether to announce alerts or applications requiring attention, and whether the time should be announced aloud. ‘Universal Access’ provides access to the ‘VoiceOver Utility,’ which provides more options for controlling the voice. This is an example of the category of application called screen readers or personal readers.

Screen readers can serve a variety of functions besides assisting people who are visually impaired. They can allow auditory learners to access educational material in the way that is most helpful to them. They can assist in foreign language acquisition. Other benefits of these readers are helping with proofreading and reducing eyestrain. Perhaps more importantly, because they can and will read anything on the screen, they can allow people who have — for one reason or another — lost the power of speech to join in a conversation, and the voice in which a person communicates can be made from recorded material of their own voice, if this is available. Film critic Roger Ebert, who lost the power of speech due to surgery, after using one of the Mac OS voices had a voice made from tapes of his own speech.

The voice-activated email and text message access program called iLane® is an example of a text-to-speech technology meant to be used in a vehicle and make message access safer when en route. Because email and text messages are rendered aloud and the driver accesses the technology through voice-activation, the driver does not have to take his or her eyes off the road in order to access and/or respond to these communications. Other devices are made specifically to vocalize GPS data and to read books aloud: such is the case with a number of ebook readers.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By truman12 — On May 09, 2012
There are a few famous individuals who use a text to speech system but the technology is actually a lot more common than you would expect. There are a number of individuals who have speech and hearing problems, as well as mobility problems. For those individuals it can be almost impossible for them to perform sign language or to write by hand. They have basically been doomed to be silent in the world, no way at all for their voices to be heard. That is where a text to speech service comes in.

It empowers those who would otherwise have to remain silent in the world. It gives a voice to people who are often condemned to stew in their thoughts. It gives the most marginalized amongst us a way to reengage with the world. That is a powerful and beautiful idea.

By summing — On May 09, 2012
There is an online text to speech program that I like to fool around with that basically allows you to speak in other voices. You type in the words and then select the voice, everything from robot to alien to demon. The program then speaks the text through whatever filter you have chosen.

It is kind of like those toy megaphones that will change your voice. I have had some big laughs calling up my friends and putting the phone up to the computer speaker. You would be surprised how long someone will stay on the line when they think they are talking to an alien.

By tigers88 — On May 08, 2012

I have an uncle who was in a very bad car accident about ten years ago and lost the ability to speak. He could still hear just fine and he had all his mental capacity, he could simply not speak.

Now her carries with him a sort of tablet like device that he can type text in to and have it come out as speech. He is obviously really good at using it from years of practice and the voice is less grating than you would expect. It is not the metallic sounding computer voice many of you are probably expecting.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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