Improve Reading Comprehension with Text-to-Speech: iPad Multi-Sensory Reading


Text-to-Speech isn’t just for students with low-vision. It can also be beneficial to students experiencing a range of literacy difficulties. Read-aloud tools have been shown to positively impact reading comprehension for individuals with reading disabilities. While more studies are needed, other potential benefits of this multi-sensory reading approach include:

  • Improved word recognition.
  • Promoting student focus on comprehension.
  • Helping students identify and correct errors in their own writing.
  • A better understanding of word meanings.
  • Increased reading stamina.

It’s also a convenient way to address read-aloud modifications. The great news is that no special apps or software are required, it’s built into your iPad and works in nearly any app.

Setting Up Speak Selection

On your iPad, navigate your way through:

  1. Settings
  2. General
  3. Accessibility
  4. Speech.
iPad Accessibility Settings

There are two Speak Selection options: speak selection and speak screen. I recommend enabling both. Many students also benefit from the Highlight Content option which highlights each word as spoken. You can return to these settings to adjust the speaking rate and select voices to fit your personal preferences.

How to Use Speak Screen

Option 1: Speak Selection

  • Select the text you would like to hear.
  • Tap “Speak.”
  • Only the text you have selected will be read to you.
Speak Selection

Option 2: Speak Screen

  • Slide two fingers down from the top of your screen.
  • The entire screen will be read to you. You have access to pause, fast-forward, rewind, and reading speed adjustment.
iPad Speak Screen

Tip: Speak Selection might be a better option than Speak Screen for content like web pages that have text spanning multiple areas like headers, menus, advertisements, etc.

Change the Voice (optional)

I find Samantha (default voice) difficult to understand. Alex is one of the clearest I have found, but you might want to test some out to suit your preferences. To change the voice navigate through Settings > General > Accessibility >Speech > Voices.

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