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Category Archives: Accessibility

Read out loud Feature in Acrobat Reader

Using e-books is becoming more popular now a days. Almost all the technical books are available in the form of pdf. Even though conventional paperbacks are preferred by most users,  e-books are cheaper and easy to use. Introduction of sophisticated mobile devices increase the ease of use of e-books.

In the acrobat reader, traditional tool for reading e-books, we have the facility of having the computer read the e-book content for us (Accessibility feature). We can just follow what it speaks out and understand. Personally, this facilitated me reading the e-books quickly and made the reading fun.

I would like to narrate how to use the reading feature of Acrobat in this article.

Enable Read out loud feature

To enable the read out loud feature, in the acrobat reader, select the View menu > Read out loud > Activate Read out loud.

Alternatively try using the hotkeys: Control + Shift + Y.

Reading the e-book

Once the read out loud is turned on, we can,

  • Read to the End of the Document by pressing Control + Shift + B.
  • Read this page only by pressing Control + Shift + V.
  • Read a selected paragraph by clicking on the paragraph.
  • Reading can be paused or resumed by pressing Control + Shift + C .
  • Reading can be stopped by pressing Control + Shift + E.

Note: All the above can be done through the menu options: View > Read out loud

Configuring voices for Read out loud feature

Internally Acrobat reader uses the operating system’s internal feature called Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine to read the documents.

Text-To-Speech capability refers to the ability to play back text in a spoken voice.

For configuring the Read out loud feature in Acrobat reader follow these steps.

Step 1: Use Edit Menu > Preferences. (In Mac, we can find the preference in Acrobat Reader Application Menu)

Step 2: In the Category list, chose Reading.

Step 3: Under the Readout loud group box, Use default voice check box would be checked by default. Unchecking this would enable the selection of different voices.

Step 4: Select the voice of your choice in the drop down and click OK.

Each voice listed in the preference Drop down is a speech engine from operating system.

Configuring Speech Engines

Windows XP and Windows Vista offer a default Text-To-Speech engine, Microsoft Sam. Windows 7 comes with Microsoft Anna.

By default Text-To-Speech engine is turned on in Windows and it can be configured through “Speech properties” in Control panel. (In Windows 7, use Control Panel > Speech Recognition > Select Text-To-Speech on the left pane.)

Though Microsoft comes up with only one speech engine, it allows us to install additional 3rd party speech engines.

Note: Refer to How to configure and use Text-to-Speech in Windows XP and in Windows Vista for more detail on configuring Text-To-Speech engine.

Mac OS provides many such speech engines by default.

Refer to Apple’s Commitment to Accessibility for more detail.