What is Text-To-Speech (TTS) and why do we need it?
Text-To-Speech
Aug. 16, 2020

What is Text-To-Speech (TTS) and why do we need it?

Text to speech technology is evolving rapidly as more and more businesses are incorporating speech software onto their websites. Why? It tends to cater to a larger audience and improves overall accessibility and convenience.

That surely is good news, but what is text to speech technology? What is the purpose of text to speech?

Text to speech or TTS is more of assistive technology. Many people with hearing impairments, disabilities, and aged citizens use it to better understand the content. It is also symbolized by a voice icon on most web pages. This is the easiest speech synthesis definition.

Many refer to it as the “read aloud” technology because as soon as you click on it, it will instantly read the text. People of all ages can use this option. Apart from seniors, children can use it to learn and read, and it is also helpful when learning a new language.

It helps users better understand dialects, pronunciation, and overall content without losing focus.

Daily usage of voice-enabled devices

Daily Consumer Use Of Voice-Enabled Devices (Source: PwC)

How does Speech Synthesis work?

What is speech synthesis? Speech synthesis or text to speech options can be seen on all kinds of platforms and devices today. From your mobile device to your desktop, this option is available for search engines, MS word, notes, and other software.

The speech synthesis works in three ways on the user end.

  • Read Aloud System: Many online web pages include the read-aloud option to make the websites accessible by all kinds of people. Sometimes the voice sounds a lot like an AI, but the latest technologies make it seem like a human reading aloud the required text.

For example: If your child is learning how to read, there is text to speech options that can mimic a child speaking the text.

This option is simply programmed to equip the user as the voice can be changed into different accents, dialects, languages and can even be sped up or slowed down.

  • Highlighting: Some options highlight the words as they are spoken simultaneously. This is a great option for those who can’t focus on reading, and have problems pronouncing the written text.

Additional features like Optical character recognition (OCR) can help read text from images. This is really helpful with comics, pictures with certain signs, symbols, and descriptions.

  • Different languages: Many speech software also offers the option for languages apart from English. Nowadays, many good text to speech software can detect up to 100 languages.

This helps a wider audience as there are currently 774 million people with literacy issues worldwide who can benefit from such a technology.

So, what are the advantages of voice recognition?

Text-To-Speech Technology

10 Reasons why you need Text to Speech Technology

There are many ways people can benefit from text to speech technology as it makes everything a lot more reachable for a wider audience.

Here are a few reasons why people are invested in text to speech and why web developers should start making use of speech software for their respective platforms.

1. Improves accessibility

Approachability is one of the major reasons why most people go for the read-aloud web option. Many people do not have the time to go through long bodies of text in the fast-paced life.

  • Data shows how 21% of all readers prefer audiobooks and podcasts over traditional text. It is one of the ways people have equipped to keep up with everything in their busy schedules.
  • Also, text to speech tech improves accessibility for children, adults, seniors, and makes content a lot more understandable and approachable.
  • It is also beneficial for those who have barriers to literacy. Up to 14% of people in the US are illiterate or have language-based learning barriers.

Such technologies are innovative and can change the way people learn, speak, and understand the content on the media.

2. Removes language barriers

Language barriers are one of the biggest issues online as with globalization, more and more cultural exchange can be seen across borders. People are learning new languages and reading different kinds of content. From Korean, French, German, to Spanish and English, there are all kinds of literature present online.

Text to speech allows people to understand, learn fluency, pronunciation, and overcome the barriers of language and dialects.

This is why some great text to speech tools offer detection of over 100 languages, so people from all over the world can use this technology and benefit from it.

3. Help reach a global audience

In this globalized world, a business can cross borders and maximize profit, highlighting the need to cater to all kinds of people. Speech synthesis gives access to a very large audience, more than those who fluently read and write text.

Multiple groups can benefit from the technology as text to speech online systems open ways for all to understand digital content with ease.

There are around 244 million foreign-born people. Migrant families can benefit from read-aloud options—especially those who don’t have proficiency in the language.

4. Aids early learning

Text to speech is an excellent tool for children. Many children have a hard time focusing and are easily distracted by long passages and words. This technology helps improve word recognition.

The child views and words and hears it at the same time, which improves memory retention. They are more likely to understand and remember words this way.

Voice recognition technologies focus on multiple aspects, like comprehension, pronunciation, and fluency. They start not only to understand better but learn where they make errors and fix them along the way.

5. The best tech for the visually impaired

One of the biggest beneficiaries from text to speech software is those who are visually impaired. The world health organization estimates around 285 million visually impaired people in the world, out of which 39 million are blind.

Web platforms with the ‘read aloud’ option can really help them reach all kinds of written content on the net, instead of opting for podcasts and videos.

Voice recognition app also helps them navigate through different applications and websites with ease.

6. Improves the lives of people with disabilities

There are all kinds of disabilities, both physical and mental. US data suggest that 4% of children enrolled in schools have some sort of learning disabilities.

  • Most prevalent include Dyslexia or ADHD disorders. Both of these don't allow children to focus and have a hard time learning and retaining information.
  • Such speech synthesis software can help children with repetition, and when combined with other visual aid, it can help overcome issues of memory, focus, and learning.
  • Text to speech tools also helps with those who have physical disabilities or autism and are unable to interact with devices and digital platforms.

Such technologies bridge the gap between disabilities and learning, allowing larger groups of people to access content without facing and issues.

7. Elderly population

The elderly population is growing, and more and more adaptive technologies are needed, so they too can benefit from the media.

The UN reports the aging population to almost double in the next ten years. It may rise to 1.4 billion making a lot of internet users in the senior age bracket.

With such technology, we can improve accessibility for the elderly so they too can utilize media. More and more phones have the ‘read aloud’ option so people can navigate through their tiny screens.

As you get older your hand, eye coordination weakens too. Hence such technology can revolutionize the way we use our devices.

8. More autonomy

People are more interested in audio content in 2020. Podcasts and audiobooks are facing increased demand due to their portability and accessibility. There are many text to speech free tools that increase this interest.

Web developers can turn entire websites into podcasts and audios using this technology. It can be used for different kinds of documents, regulations, books, and images.

You can listen to all the written content you consume on a daily basis. This helps you understand it better, and saves your precious time as well.

People barely have the time to sit down with their favorite books, but imagine if they could hear audios for 20 mins each day while driving to work. Wouldn’t that be something?

9. A better understanding of content

People don’t share one way to learn and understand. Some people understand better by visual aid, while others might think repetition is the key to learning.

There can never be a universal learning pattern, which is why some kids aren’t late learners but need other ways of learning and understanding.

Many use the post-industrial revolution teaching methods to date, it might have worked then, but it certainly isn't up to speed for today's children.

Text to speech tools allows people of all ages to learn and understand the content on a better level. It can help those learning new languages, kids learning words and sentences, and migrants trying to better their pronunciation and fluency.

10. For places of Learning and Training

Voice activation computers and speech on technology is the technology of the future. More and more places of learning will start to implement such tools in their curriculum.

You will also see a shift in businesses and office training. Such speech software eliminates the need for extra employees, saves costs, and is much more efficient for schools and businesses to use.

Schools already use audiobooks and audio aid to help children learn, but the main question is to combine both audio tools with written, to enhance the learning experience entirely.

This conversation needs to begin, so, schools of tomorrow can grow with the latest technology.

Conclusion

So, now you know what is TTS text to speech technology and how it can help business and the general public for different purposes.

The importance of speech cannot be denied. Therefore, text to speech tool is definitely a game-changer technology that can help expand audiences, help businesses, and improve reach and understanding of content. Many groups cannot equally benefit from written content as it does not cater to all kinds of audiences.

Such software uses the same content and improves its accessibility for all beneficiaries.

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