There are plenty of reading and text dictation apps out there, but the best one we’ve found for dyslexia sufferers, SEN and pupils with reading difficulties has to be ClaroSpeak. With a load of customisation and import options, here’s why we’re recommending it to schools…
What is ClaroSpeak?
On the surface, ClaroSpeak (Claro Software Limited, £3.99) is a reader/text dictation app that will read out loud any text you import into it in what Claro call “human-sounding high-quality voices”. Where it gets interesting is the level of customisation – it allows you to import a text file, set up a wide range of font types and sizes, colours and backgrounds, and then have the text read to you, with each sentence highlighted in a choice of colours as it’s read. It also allows you to edit the text and then export it as text or as a spoken audio file.
How could it benefit the classroom?
The place we could see this making the most impact is with pupils with reading difficulties, be it SEN, dyslexia or even ESL – having English language text read aloud does wonders for those learning English as a second language. As you can customise the backgrounds and styles, you can make the text a lot less cluttered and busy, so that it’s easier to read, and the actual speaking voices are really quite accurate. There are male and female British English voices and, intriguingly, French and Spanish as well. The ability to load a piece of French text, and have it read back in a good French accent, while highlighting the spoken text might make this interesting in Modern Foreign Languages too!
What’s the best feature?
One of the most remarkable features of ClaroSpeak is that you can open text directly from Dropbox. This might not sound like a massive thing, but many apps like Evernote require you to export from Dropbox, rather than importing from within the app. That means a lot less hassle when sharing documents with pupils, as you can send out files via Dropbox, then open them up within ClaroSpeak, without having to exit the app and open up the Dropbox app.
What’s also interesting is that Claro have just updated ClaroSpeak to make it read out loud in the background. Now, you can exit the app and get on with other stuff like taking notes, while ClaroSpeak still reads the document back to you from the dock.
Where can I get it?
You can download ClaroSpeak (Claro Software Ltd, £3.99) either from the App Store on your iPad or from iTunes. It’s not free, but if you’re buying more than 20 instances of the app, you can get a 50% discount under Apple’s Volume Purchase Programme, making it just £1.99.