Use your iPad to talk for you


Use your iPad to talk for you
Mac Tip #549, 15 August 2012

Some people with disabilities use their iPad to speak on their behalf. Read about Proloquo2Go if that’s a solution that would interest you. But this Tip is about a quick and easy solution I found when I had an annoying bout of laryngitis and needed to be able to express myself on mundane things for a couple of days.

MacTips is taking a brief holiday. The next regular Tip will be published approx 05 September 2012.

Quick Start

  1. Use Keynote for iPad.
  2. Make slides and display text.
  3. Bonus: enable Speak Selection.
  4. Select and speak text.

If this Tip was useful, please leave a comment letting us know. Want more detail? Read the full Tip below.

Keynote for iPad

You may know Apple’s Keynote app as being for creating presentations. And you may be familiar with it from the Mac. But there’s also an iPad and iPhone version (US$9.99) that does a couple of very handy things for someone who’s lost their voice.

Keynote app for iPad and iPhone.

Keynote app for iPad and iPhone.

I already owned the app, having used it for an actual presentation last year. See Project your iPad2 for information on that.

Make slides

The purpose of my slides was so that I could write a short sentence and hold the iPad up for my partner to read from a couple of metres away. I chose a presentation master that put large white text on a black background.

Keynote slide, with text selected, ready to read aloud.

Keynote slide, with text selected, ready to read aloud.

Then it was easy to type in a few phrases, one per slide.

It was also easy, though a little time-consuming, to simply type responses to questions and then hold up the iPad to display my answer.

Not being able to talk turns out to be extremely frustrating, even for a few days, and random hand gestures aren’t always clear enough on their own.

Get ready to speak the text

For a bit of variety, and added fun, you can have the iPad read selected text aloud.

First, enable the Speak Selection setting on the iPad:

  1. Tap on the Settings app to open it.
  2. Tap on General, to open the General settings, then scroll down until you can see the Accessibility section.
  3. Tap on Accessibility to reveal the Accessibility settings.
  4. Tap on Speak Selection. In the page that appears tap the button to turn Speak Selection on and drag the slider to set a Speaking Rate. Slower is on the left, and faster is on the right. After you release the slider the iPad plays a sample of text so you can hear how fast or slow the setting is.
Enable Speak Selection in the Settings app.

Enable Speak Selection in the Settings app.

Once you’ve enabled Speak Selection it remains on until you disable it again.

Select and speak text

Make sure the volume on your iPad is turned up.

Now go to a slide and select some text. You may find the the first tap only selects the block of text as a whole. To select the text itself within a block you may need to double tap again to cause the selection handles to appear. Drag the handles to select as much text as you wish the iPad to speak.

If the selection handles are active you should see a button above the selection that reads Speak. Tap the button to have the iPad speak the selected text.

If you see the button but the text reads something other than Speak, for example, Cut or Copy, then tap the arrow at the left end until the word Speak appears.

This is all a bit slow and clumsy, but it sure beats handwaving when you can’t use your voice for some reason.

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