Friday, August 13, 2010
Thing 11 TTS/STT (Super Extra Double Bonus Points)
Text to Speech
Looking for free software to convert text to speech or speech to text? The following three sites are good places to start: vozme.com, yakitome.com, and readthewords.com.
Vozme.com allows you to type in a text to be converted to an audio file. What I liked about this site is that you didn't have to sign-up for an account to use it. You could simply type in your text, listen to the audio, download it, and then save it. I did not test for length/time restrictions, and the voice quality is fair. You may choose from several languages.
Yakitome.com allows you to upload files, rss feeds, emails, or type text that you want converted to audio. You have to create an account first, but you are able to convert documents into audio free of charge. I uploaded a 13KB word document (instructions for a Romeo and Juliet acting project, and it took about 5 minutes to upload to Yakitome. The sound/voice quality was good. Sometimes certain words or phrases sounded muffled together. It was entertaining to hear my own words played back to me with a different voice; particularly the banal computer lab times and project due dates. You get more of a feel for what you sound like to your students! I could choose to translate into Spanish, French, or Gernman.
ReadtheWords is fun because you can customize your own avatar, but you have to sign up for a free account which is limiting. You are unable to upload files with the free account and you can only record up to 3 audios at a time. The sound/voice quality is the best out of the three sites. Also, you have several voice options with various tones from which to choose. ReadtheWords has links for teachers, too.
Speech to Text
Dial2do is a speech-to-text service that can be used for free for a certain amount of time (a month I believe?). It's very easy to do. You set up an account and can then send an email to yourself or your friends, send a reminder to yourself, or even tweet from your phone! You can even hear your emails read to you over the phone. This would be an excellent way to save time if you're away on business and don't have the time to sit down on a computer or if you rather not type emails into your Blackberry/Droid. I tried it out and recorded a brief message over the phone. The transcription was dead on, which was impressive because I have a tendency to talk to fast when I'm on the phone.
How can these services could be used in education?...
I'm sure special education teachers (especially the tech-savvy ones) could answer this question better than I could. I could see it being extremely useful in all levels of education. I stumbled upon this blog for the 411, http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=5312179896693140824&postID=4175248529216185095
I would try to use it on my own students who might be struggling with writing/reading. It could be an interesting experiment to try on foreign-language learners, too. For example, a student writes a small sample in Spanish. He then converts it to an audio recording and can hear what he wrote. Maybe he'll know he's made a grammatical error when something doesn't "sound right." Or maybe he'll just smile knowing that he's communicating in a foreign language. He could pick up on correct pronunciation, too. Reversely, that same student could speak in Spanish and then see it in text. It could serve as a way to check speech and see if main ideas were communicated clearly enough or not. The same could work for ELL students.
Out of curiosity, I googled tts/stt for special education, and here are a few links that popped up:
ispeech.com- software for educational institutions
Mangomaon- blog about the history of TTS and the implications of today's TTS technology
Iser.com - a list of
software for special needs students
Wordq.com - writing and speech software