Chromebooks have enhanced voice options for Select to speak, which allows you to hear text spoken loudly.
With accessibility features on Chromebooks, we want everyone to have a good experience on their computer – so people can get things done, families can play together, students and teachers can learn together, and employees can work productively and efficiently, wherever they are. We wanted to share some of the new Chromebook accessibility features. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
New enhanced voices for Select-to-speak
People spend a lot of time reading on their laptop, doing things like reading news articles or reviewing school textbooks. Reading on a screen can be less than ideal for many, including people with dyslexia (an estimated 10-20% of the population), low vision, those learning a new language or people who have a hard time focusing on busy text.
With a few clicks, Select-to-speak on Chromebooks allows you to hear selected text on your screen spoken out loud. We added some new features to Chromebooks earlier this year, including controls to speed up, slow it down, or pause the reading voice. Also, you can jump to different parts and sections of text. You can also choose to highlight words spoken and to shade background text to focus your attention.
Today, we’re announcing new, more human sounding voices for Select-to-speak, to help spoken text be more fluid and easier to understand. Natural voices are currently available in various accents in 25 languages with more to come. To develop this feature we worked closely with educators and individuals who are dyslexic. Their experience was that reading text out loud improves comprehension, especially in educational settings. It’s easier to follow along as the content is read and highlighted on the screen if you use natural-sounding voices, such as a local accent.
Try it out by enabling Select-to-speak in Chromebook settings, and picking your preferred voice. Then select the text you want read out loud and press the Everything Button or Launcher Key + S.
I’m dyslexic and have ADHD and have trouble with reading/learning. It’s amazing how much knowledge I have had to “let go” of. I can’t read the words, and my attention is not able to stick. I am an audio learner who has just discovered text-to speech features. This tool is so exciting to me!
– Chromebook user with dyslexia
Making Chromebooks more accessible
Over the past year, we’ve also made it easier to use, discover and customize Chromebook’s built-in accessibility features. This includes updates to the screen magnifier, like keyboard panning and shortcuts. We have also developed new in-product tutorials for ChromeVox, and we’ve introduced point scanning to make the selection process for switch users more efficient.
As a public middle school Reading & Dyslexia Specialist, accessibility tools are crucial to student success in education… stop, fast forward, and rewind help build metacognition and reading comprehension skills. We appreciate your ability to adapt to the accessibility needs for children. Sharon McMichael (C.E.R.I.) Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist )
Become a certified Chromebook
For assistive tech trainers, educators and users with a disability who want to learn more about Chromebook’s accessibility features, this summer we launched an online training program in conjunction with The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP). This course covers Chromebook accessibility features and Google Workspace. It consists of eight modules. After passing the final exam and completing the course, you will receive a digital badge certifying that you are a Chromebook accessibility expert.
We’ll be back in the future to share new Chromebook features.
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