Monday, December 10, 2012

Text to Speech Up a Notch with Voice Dream Reader App

I was checking out a list of apps that support Dyslexia  I linked to, Friday November 30, when I came across Voice Dream Reader. The thing that caught my eye was that it supports Bookshare files. I downloaded it and tested it out.
The app ($9.99) allows you to bring in text from Dropbox, and reads many formats including Epub, Word, Plain Text and pdf. There is also a web browser that lets you navigate to a web page, then do a smart save that edits out advertising and other text from the page and gives you the article text ready to go on your shelf. The web page I tried had lost of ads and blocks of unrelated text and it effectively cleaned up the page and gave me the article ready to read.
The voice that comes with it is a female voice that is very pleasant. There are lots of other voices that can be downloaded for .99 each. I especially like "Tyler" if you want a Hugh Jackman voice reading to you - very natural. The text size and background is all able to be customized and it highlights words as it reads. By pinching the screen you can reduce the area of the screen so it is only a few lines of text wide to take away a lot of distracting text so you can focus on the text being read. There is an editor so that you can edit text within the app. The app also offers translation services to translate a document for a nominal fee.
The settings menu includes a Bookshare account that you can activate for .99. It provides for your login, and if you have an individual account, it will let you search and download titles. It does not support organizational accounts at this writing. Paying .99 cents is a "steal of a deal" for those with individual accounts compared to paying 19.99 for the Bookshare app Read2go. Having tried both , I like the streamline way organizations can use Read2go to support students with Bookshare accounts at school on iPads, but I believe the Voice Dream Reader should be a staple reader to access other content within your pdf's, epubs and other stored documents.
I liked the timer that comes with the app, allowing you to set it for a limited time as a sleep setting or when you go out of the app to do other things. Voice Dream Reader keeps reading when you exit out and go to other work.
Finally, I appreciated how quickly an email came when I emailed their support to ask some questions. They were very prompt and very supportive. I have added this app to our list of accessibility apps for students in the classroom. Check it out.
All the best,

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