Using Speak Selection


Smartphones are packed with so many tools that they integrate several more traditional devices into one, and this is especially true of the iPhone.

The iPhone’s small text display and use as a cellular phone presents some issues for those with special needs that may limit their ability to interpret these tools.  Apple has come at this issue full bore and has provided a growing Accessibility section that includes augments to these tools that allow people to use them despite differences.  One of these is the Speak Selection tool, which allows select bits of text to be spoken out loud by your iPhone for those that may have difficultly reading them.   Here is a look at how to use Speak Selection on the iPhone.

Start by going into Settings and selecting General, which is at the top of the fourth block of options.  Head down and select Accessibility, which is directly below International.  This is where the different Accessibility options are broken down by special needs, such as Vision, Hearing, Learning, Physical & Motor, and Triple-Click.  Under the top Vision section you will find Speak Selection right under the Invert Color switch.

When you open it you can turn the Speak Selection switch to the On position since its default will be Off.  When you do this a series of options will appear.  At the top you can select from Dialects so that the Speak Selection can communicate with you naturally.  The language options are already inclusive, with English, Spanish, French, and others being available.  Within those you can pick a regional dialect.  For example, in English you can choose from U.S. English, Australian English, British English, Irish English, or South African English.

Below that is a bar for the speaking rate, which runs from turtle to rabbit.  This is meant to indicate the speed of talking, with the turtle being slow and the rabbit being more rapid.  The last item in the settings is the Highlight Words switch, which is set to Off as a default.  If you turn it on then the words will actually be highlighted as they are spoken.

Once you have activated the Speak Selection setting go into any feature in the iPhone that will have text, such as Safari.  Find text that you would like read and you can press down on it, highlighting the text as if you were to copy it.  A button will come up in the same string of options for Speak.  When you do the text will be spoken at the speed that was selected on the bar in the settings.  The play button will be replace by a pause button while it plays, returning to a play button when it doesn’t. You can then use this in both shorter and longer blocks of text, which is especially good for reading news articles.  This can also be used along with tools within apps, such as the Reader feature in Safari.

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