Converting text to speech in LibreOffice and OpenOffice


© Lead Image © warangkana bunyarittongchai,

© Lead Image © warangkana bunyarittongchai,

Article from Issue 237/2020

Visually impaired users often find working with text and tables in office suites difficult. Pico TTS, a text-to-speech synthesizer, and the Read Text extension for LibreOffice and OpenOffice provide a solution.

Without special aids, people with vision impairments can find using a computer difficult. While icons can be sufficiently enlarged to make them readable, word processors and spreadsheets are a major hurdle. The fonts in the documents are almost always too small to be read and deciphering text is also difficult due to the smooth transitions in serif or cursive fonts.

In this case, programs that read the text out loud can help. These programs convert letters into linguistically adapted phonemes and then play them back via the computer's sound system with an installed voice.

On Linux, there are various screen readers for this purpose that are based on text-to-speech programs such as eSpeak or Festival. Solutions based on the popular eSpeak have the disadvantage of a synthetic computer voice: It is quite difficult to understand due to pronunciation that is typically very nasal and partly uses the wrong intonation.


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