All right, so I love love love to read!! I like fiction and fantacy, mystery and suspense, some romance, and even a few uplifting types. Many times, you can find audio books and I love them, most of the time. I have some favorite narrators that really make the stories come alive! All that said, audio books are usually quite expensive, weather you buy them at a book store or download them. They do have a few programs out there that offer books on tape, but you have to go through extensive approval processes and such things. I also have access to books in text or braille format, and many times, there is a wider selection of those than that of audio books. But in order to read those books in text or Braille format, I would usually have to load them onto my computer and listen to my screen reader read them to me. But here’s my issue. Personally, I don’t find it very relaxing to listen to Jaws read books to me. I would like to hear my books from a less mechanical, more human-sounding narrator.
So what to do? Actually, what made me start thinking on these things more was a blog entry from Susan Gerhart, where she talks about book reading options. After reading her ideas and resources, I found several choices out there for book reading, more than I had previously realized.I listen to jaws reading all day long, in it’s synthetic voice or voices. I am used to it, but when it comes to reading for fun, I want to hear something a bit more natural. I also carry my ipod around with me everywhere and love to listen to books on there, rather than having to use my computer.So I started looking around for different options, to be able to convert text files to mp3 files that can be loaded onto my ipod and listened to. I have used kurzweil reader and it does have this capability, but its voices are also quite synthetic, and I have had issues getting this program to work with windows vista. There’s another program called text aloud, and you can actually buy voices for it that sound pretty decent. I’m looking for other programs that may do better, my goal is to have something that will sound as close to a live person as possible. This way, my reading time will be more relaxing, and less like listening to a computer voice in my sleep.
I have recently discovered a new program that may be useful if you teach blind children, or even those with other disabilities. It is called TypeAbility. Step by step, it takes the student through learning all of the keys on a pc keyboard. It is very user friendly, even tells jokes at the end of each lesson. This program could also be useful for older people who are newly disabled and are new to the pc, or not as familiar with some of the keys. You can skip ahead, past the very basics… there are 68 lessons. It is customizable and actually fun!! As a teacher, you can go into the program and read evaluation reports on your students. You can download a free trial, just to give it a shot before buying it.
You can find out more about this program and a few others to help the blind at
You can hear an audio demonstration of TypeAbility and learn about the man behind the program by going to
On a side note, the Freedom Scientific podcasts are very informative and fun to listen to, and you can download the year’s archives.