Text-to-Speech Use to Improve Reading of High School Struggling Readers

By Kelly Roberts, Kiriko Takahashi, Hye-Jin Part and Robert Stodden.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of two pilot studies was to test the efficacy of text-to-speech (TTS) software in improving the reading skills of high school students reading between a 1.0 and 6.0 grade level equivalency. Participants were receiving special education services, or at risk of referral. Their reading baseline and outcomes were measured, using select subtests of Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement or with Nelson-Denny Reading Test, without access to TTS software (unaided) during the testing. Kurzweil 3000 was used with the participants for one semester within a content area class (e.g., science). Results from the first study found the use of Kurzweil 3000 significantly increased participants’ unaided vocabulary. The second study found participants who used Kurzweil 3000 for more than 400 minutes in a semester had significantly increased their unaided reading vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency rate when compared to their baseline scores. There follows discussions on exposure to text and the possible link to improved reading, the limitations of the pilot studies, and future research directions of TTS software as a potential reading intervention.

Keywords: Text-to-Speech Software, Successful Reading Interventions, High School Struggling Readers

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.89-97. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 373.132KB).

Dr. Kelly Roberts

Associate Professor, Center on Disability Studies, College of Education, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Dr. Roberts is an associate professor at the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She holds a Ph.D. in education (emphasis on special education, learning disabilities and assistive technology). She has over twenty years’ experience as a teacher and is certified by the Rehabilitation and Engineering Society of North American (RESNA) as an Assistive Technology Practitioner. She has worked in the assistive technology field with individuals across a range of disabling conditions including persons with severe physical involvements; developmental disabilities; autism; learning disabilities; and intellectual and emotional impairments.

Kiriko Takahashi

Assistant Specialist, Center on Disability Studies, College of Education, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

Ms. Takahashi is an assistant specialist at the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She holds a Master’s Degree in learning disabilities from Northwestern University and currently a doctoral student in at the University of Hawaii Manoa. Ms. Takahashi has experience working with all children and adult learners with learning and/or other disabilities utilizing research based instructional methods and assistive technology.

Dr. Hye-Jin Part

Assistant Professor, Center on Disability Studies, College of Education, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Dr. Park is an assistant professor at the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She holds a Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching. Dr. Park has conducted educational research and program evaluation, including research on utilizing assistive technology for students with disabilities.

Dr. Robert Stodden

Professor and Director, Center on Disability Studies, College of Education, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Dr. Stodden is a professor and director at the Center on Disability Studies (CDS). Dr. Stodden, whose doctorate is in secondary/special education/vocational rehabilitation, is a tenured professor in the University of Hawai‘i Special Education Department. He also founded CDS in 1988. Four years earlier he developed the first Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities.