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Speaking of Apps

A Comparison of Text to Speech Apps

Published August 19, 2013 12:01 PM by Megan Sutton

Text-to-speech (TTS) apps convert typed text to voice output, similar to the Lightwriter dedicated AAC device. This type of app is useful for someone with intact literacy, language and cognitive skills; good manual control for typing; and adequate vision for small text. The user would most likely need this type of app because of a voice or speech impairment such as laryngitis, head or neck cancer, ALS, severe dysarthria, or verbal apraxia. While some picture-based AAC apps have text-to-speech as a component, the majority of TTS apps available do not include symbols.

I've taken a look at several key features in the top TTS apps to compare how each app stacks up to help you decide which is best for your clients. The apps included in this feature analysis are Speak it! Text to Speech, Assistive Express (formerly known as Assistive Chat), Predictable, and Verbally (free and premium). For comparison, I've also looked at the built-in features of iDevices, using the Notes app combined with the accessibility feature of Speak Selection to achieve the same TTS functionality without an additional app.

Format & Price:

Speak it! Text to Speech: Universal iPhone & iPad, $1.99

Assistive Express: Universal iPhone & iPad, $24.99

Predictable: Universal iPhone & iPad, $159.99

Verbally: iPad only, Landscape orientation only, free

Verbally Premium: iPad only, Landscape orientation only, $99.99

Notes: Universal iPhone & iPad, free

 

 

Word Prediction:

Speak it! Text to Speech: none

Assistive Express: yes, up to 6 words

Predictable: yes, up to 5 words on screen at a time with several more available

Verbally: yes, up to 4 words

Verbally Premium: yes, up to 4 words

Notes: none

 

 

Phrase Storage & History:

Speak it! Text to Speech: can save phrases and audio files, no history

Assistive Express: can save phrases to Favorites and access last 40 utterances

Predictable: can save phrases to categories and access history

Verbally: a few commonly used words and phrases are stored, but no ability to add phrases to the app for quick access - must upgrade for this functionality

Verbally Premium: can save phrases and access history

Notes: stores all words/phrases typed into the app, can delete lines

 

Export Options:

Speak it! Text to Speech: email saved audio files

Assistive Express: email, Twitter, Facebook, or copy to clipboard

Predictable: email, Facebook, Twitter; copy to clipboard coming in next version

Verbally: none

Verbally Premium: email

Notes: email, print, or copy to clipboard

 

 

Voices:

Speak it! Text to Speech: 2 male and 2 female voices (US & UK accent) with option to purchase several more for $1 each, high-quality Acapela voices with rate and volume control

Assistive Express: 1 male, 1 female, and 1 child voice (US accent) from Acapela, rate and volume control

Predictable: 4 male and 5 female voices (US, UK, & AUS accents), Loquendo voices from Nuance, pitch and rate are adjustable

Verbally: 1 male and 1 female low-quality synthesized voice

Verbally Premium: 1 male, 1 female, and 1 child voice (US accent) from Acapela; rate, pitch, and volume controls

Notes: built-in iOS voice (1 per dialect) with rate control in Settings app

 

 

Keyboard:

Speak it! Text to Speech: Built-in QWERTY

Assistive Express: Built-in QWERTY

Predictable: Custom QWERTY, ABCDEF, and high-frequency layout for scanning (options appear in the Settings app, not in the Predictable app itself)

Verbally: Custom QWERTY and Left/Right ABCDEF

Verbally Premium: Custom QWERTY and Left/Right ABCDEF

Notes: Built-in QWERTY

 

Additional Notes:

Speak it! Text to Speech: includes instruction on how to use this app while speaking on an iPhone call using the speakerphone

Assistive Express: additional settings for font size and when to speak; word prediction can be turned off

Predictable: accessible for scanning with a switch; includes limited symbol support and handwriting recognition

Verbally: Steady Hands setting lets users slide over the keyboard and only select on release; Premium features are visible with pop-up ads to upgrade when touched

Notes: must first select the text you wish to speak, which can be fussy

Conclusion: The best value for money for a universal app with word prediction, quality voices, and phrase storage is Assistive Express. If the user's condition is degenerative and physical access may deteriorate, Predictable is worth considering for its switch scanning capabilities. Speak it! is an inexpensive option without word prediction for those who type faster than they think, or for just a brief period of vocal rest.

 

posted by Megan Sutton
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6 comments

In August, I compared 5 options for text-to-speech AAC for literate users without speech. One of the

March 24, 2014 12:31 PM

The app iSpeech Dictation was free and didn't get blocked by my district's filter (like DragonDictation did). However you do need to have wifi for it to work.  We use it as a spelling source. The child says the word and it prints out.

Andi, Education - SLP, School August 29, 2013 3:43 PM
Whittier CA

Hi Denise -

The two voice-to-text apps I know of and use are the built-in functionality on iPad3 or newer and Dragon Dictation. I'll do some more searching and put together a post on the topic if I find anything!

Megan Sutton August 25, 2013 5:08 PM

Any suggestions for speech-text apps?! My school kids could use the opposite as was discussed in this article due to poor FM skills.

Denise K, OTR/L August 22, 2013 10:49 PM
Denver CO

Thanks Alison! I'll be sure to check it out. Looks good!

Megan Sutton August 22, 2013 2:00 AM

Claro software has a couple of new ones.   ClaroCom USA has word prediction, phrase prediction, a phrase bank including fillable phrases, good voices; the Pro version allows you to do more customization.   Claro also makes ClaroSpeak, which is primarily a text reader, but it also has word prediction.

Alison, SLP August 19, 2013 9:35 PM
MA

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