People who are blind or visually impaired use screen readers to have digital text read aloud to them. A variety of text-to-speech tools can also be convenient for sighted individuals to avoid eyestrain or to listen when reading is not feasible.
Screen readers are software programs that allow people who are blind or visually impaired to hear the text on a computer screen. A screen reader looks at the coding behind the scenes while it reads the text -- and also reads popup boxes, buttons, etc. As assistive technologies advance, more screen readers become available. Here are a few to explore:
NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) - Designed by a blind individual; free but available for Windows only
Apple VoiceOver - A platform built-in to iOS products
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) - Popular, available for a fee, and for Windows only
Visit the American Foundation for the Blind website for a list of additional platforms.
Text-to-speech tools tend to be less robust than screen readers. Many web-based platforms and apps are available, often at no charge. Here is a sampling of tools to explore:
Natural Reader - Software available on the web or as a Chrome extension
Read Aloud - A text-to-speech extension for Chrome
SpeakIt - A tool available on Windows (using SAPI 5), macOS, and Chrome OS
ttsMP3 - A tool that both reads text aloud and provides the opportunity to download the converted text to .MP3