Now that Chrome OS is shifting to a 4-week update schedule instead of 6-weeks, we’re going to start seeing features and bug fixes roll out much faster than ever before. The development team made this decision believing that they’ve found a comfortable cadence for pushing the operating system forward while maintaining its stability.
With that being said, a new blog post published on The Keyword details an improved Text-to-Speech accessibility model that makes the voice more natural-sounding and human. People spend tons of time reading their laptop screens between articles, school textbooks, and more. With an estimated 10-20% of the population contending with dyslexia – not to mention all of the users who may have low vision, or a difficult time focusing on text, Chromebooks have continuously needed to evolve to meet these needs.
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.The Keyword
Google worked with educators who specialize in dyslexia and even individuals who have dyslexia themselves in order to improve the Text-to-Speech engine in Chrome OS. The new voices may also have the ability to sound local to your accent so that comprehension can be increased.
To enable Select-to-Speak for all text on your display, just visit the Settings app, go to “Advanced”, and then “Accessibility”. Then, toggle ChromeVox under the “Text-to-Speech” category. You can also listen to just part of the page by selecting text with your cursor after enabling Text-to-Speech. Once you’ve done that follow the steps below which can be found on the Chromebook Help website:
- To select what text you’d like to hear:
- Press and hold the Search key and select a line of text.
- Press and hold the Search key and drag the pointer over an area of the screen.
- Highlight the text and press the Search key + s.
- At the bottom right, near the time, select Select-to-speak . Then select a line of text or drag the pointer over an area of the screen.
- On a touchscreen: At the bottom right, near the time, tap Select-to-speak . Then tap a line of text or drag your finger over an area of the screen.
- Your Chromebook will read the section aloud and each word will be highlighted.
- To stop Select-to-speak while it’s reading, press Ctrl or the Search key . You can also select Stop .
Tip: With navigation controls, you can pause and play, adjust speed, and skip lines of text.
Recently, ChromeVox introduced Point Scanning, and several other Accessibility tools have been updated with new features, including the on-screen magnifier, and the keyboard. Google believes that Accessibility should be seen more so as “customization”. Since everyone’s needs are different, these tools benefit everyone, not just those for who they were initially developed.
As a Chromebook Expert in stores for the past five years, I can’t tell you how many times people without low vision or eye problems made use of the options Chromebooks have built-in to accommodate for those who do. Which Accessibility features do you use on your device and why? If you’re comfortable sharing, let’s start a conversation!