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Studying on a screen

Listening to your study material

There are several reasons why you might want to listen to your study materials. For example, it could be that you struggle to read materials in print or on screen due to a visual impairment, a specific learning difficulty such as Dyslexia or because you experience migraines.

Audio versions of module materials can be useful when you are on the move, on your daily commute, when travelling, or when working or otherwise away from home. You can also listen while doing other activities, such as household chores. Whatever the reason, there are several options available for you to consider when working with your OU module materials.

DAISY talking books

DAISY talking books are audio representations of your module materials with built in navigation and accessibility features. This means you can listen to the study text at the same time as viewing it on screen. However, it should be noted that DAISY books are not a replacement for your primary module materials and some content, such as interactive content on your module website, might not be available in this format. 

If DAISY talking books are available for a module, all students can download and use them. However, for copyright reasons, some content (such as set books) may only be available to students who’ve told the Open University they have a disability.

Locating DAISY talking books for your module

If available for your module, you can locate DAISY talking books in the ‘Resources’ section of your module website. Visit your module website and click on the ‘Resources’ tab. Navigate to the ‘Downloads’ link and then scroll down the page to locate the heading ‘Module materials in DAISY digital talking book format’.

If you have a declared disability and use a bespoke DAISY Player (such as a Plextalk disc player or Victor Stream SD card player) we can arrange for DAISY talking books to be sent to you by post in CD-ROM or SD card format.

Playing DAISY talking books

The best way to play DAISY talking books is through a free software package called AMIS (apart from Mac based systems) or a free App called EasyReader. The EasyReader App allows DAISY talking books to be played on Android and iOS based devices.

For more information on DAISY books, how to download the relevant software and alternative options for listening, see the guidance in the OU Computing Guide.

Once you've got the software ready you can try a sample file of a talking book (ZIP, 5.4 MB).

Text-to-speech

Text-to-speech software reads aloud the text within web pages or documents on your computer or device. Depending on the software you use and how you use it, you can listen to whole pages and documents or choose specific parts of the text to be read back to you. If you find reading from a screen difficult, using text-to-speech software alongside reading the text can make it easier to read and understand.

You should be able to use most text-to-speech software directly with your module website and other digital files and software for your module. In addition, most modules also offer a range of materials in different formats  that you can try with text-to-speech software depending on your needs.  However, some formats may be missing certain elements of materials present on your module website such as the ability to show video or other interactive content which you will need to take into consideration.

Most operating systems and devices now have text-to-speech already built in. My Computer My Way by AbilityNet is a useful resource and may have more specific information about what is available to you. There is also a wide range of text-to-speech software available to download. Different software may be more appropriate for you than others depending on your individual needs and the device or operating system you are using. For example, you may want to consider the voice options available. If you would prefer a more natural sounding voice to a synthetic voice or a voice with a certain accent, this is something you can look for when choosing your preferred text-to-speech software.

A note about screen readers

It is worth noting that text-to-speech is different from using a screen reader or screen reading software. Screen readers are primarily used by people who are blind or partially sighted and are intended to more fully replace the visual experience of navigating and reading on screen. You can find out more about screen readers and other assistive technologies in the OU Computing Guide. If you think that a screen reader would better suit your needs, the article Blind or partially sighted tells you more about what adaptations may be helpful to you. You can also contact your student support team (SST) for advice and support.

Useful links

  • My Computer My Way

    Advice from AbilityNET covering a range of accessibility requirements including text-to-speech.

  • Diversity and Ability: Resources

    A helpful guide by Diversity and Ability to several applications and resources designed to support study. Try filtering by ‘Text-to-speech' to see some relevant options.

  • Using OU electronic files

    An OU Computing Guide article with information on the accessibility levels of OU PDF documents including information on how to make use of the ‘Read Aloud’ function and other modifications for PDFs available through Adobe.

  • View as single page

    An OU Computing Guide article with instructions for viewing study items on your module website as a single page, which you may find useful combined with text-to-speech software.

Converting materials into accessible formats

If you have a disability, the Library has information on how you can convert materials into more accessible formats, including audio, through SensusAccess.  For more information on this and other support the Library provides visit the Library page on Disabled user support.

Further support

If you have told us about, or now want to tell us and provide evidence of, a disability or health condition, you may be eligible to request adjustments such as assistive technology or printed materials. You can also contact the Disability Support team to discuss your needs.

Last updated 6 months ago