Section Two: Using the Read Out Loud Text-to-Speech Tool

This section will provide information for modifying the speech settings for the Read Out Loud tool in Adobe® Reader® 6.0 and detail the keystrokes for reading documents using Read Out Loud.

Read Out Loud is a Text-to-Speech (TTS) tool that is built into Adobe Reader 6.0. It reads text contained within a document window. This functionality is different from “screen reader” technology, which not only reads text within a document but also lets visually impaired users navigate their computer and access menu items, dialog boxes, or message boxes.

To use Read Out Loud, you will need:

  • Adobe Reader 6.0 or later
  • The Text-to-Speech engine installed in the operating system

Note that other voices may be available. Consult the operating system manual or Help files for more information on the operating system Text-to-Speech tool.

Checking document accessibility

Before reading a Portable Document Format (PDF) document, it is a good idea to check the anticipated accessibility of the document. If the document is not accessible, it may not be read at all or it may be read in the wrong order.

To use Quick Check, do one of the following:

  • Choose Document > Quick Check.
  • Press Alt + D for Documents, then Q for Quick Check (Windows only).

Testing the default reading settings

Before making modifications to Read Out Loud, test the voice settings. The few keystrokes below will start and stop Read Out Loud. Additional keystrokes are provided in the section on reading with this tool.

To test the default reading settings:

  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Read This Page Only, or use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + V (Windows) or Shift + Command + V (Mac OS).
  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Stop to stop reading, or use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + E (Windows) or Shift + Command + E (Mac OS).

Setting Reading preferences

To open the Preferences dialog box, do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit > Preferences.
  • Press Alt + E for Edit, then N for Preferences (Windows only).
  • Press Ctrl + K (Windows) or Command + K (Mac OS).

Press the letter R to move to the Reading category, if it is not already selected. From the keyboard, press the Tab key to move into the options. If using the mouse, click on the option to be changed.

Volume

To make changes to the default volume using the keyboard, choose Alt + V for Volume, then use the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key to increase or decrease volume.

Note that volume can be controlled from the computer sound card. On Windows systems, select the volume icon in the system tray (lower right side of the computer screen next to the clock). On Mac OS, the volume is controlled by three volume keys on the keyboard (Up, Down, and Off).

Default voice

Every TTS software has a default voice. However, a different voice can be selected by clearing the Voice check box, which reveals the list of possible Voices. Choose a different voice by using the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key.

To change the volume options on a Windows system:

  1. Press Alt + U to move to and uncheck “Use Default Voice.”
  2. If the Tab key is used to navigate, once focus is on “Use Default Voice,” press the spacebar to either select or deselect the check box.

To change the volume options on Mac OS:

Press the Tab key to move to the option, then select it by pressing the spacebar.

Speech attributes

Modifying the speech attributes means altering the rate or speed at which the voice reads or the pitch of the selected voice. By default, the Use Default Speech Attributes check box is selected. Clearing this check box enables the options for changing the rate and pitch of the voice.

To change the speech attributes on a Windows system:

  1. Press Alt + A to change the value of this check box. Clearing the check box enables the pitch and speed options.
  2. Press Alt + P for Pitch.
  3. Press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key to increase or decrease the pitch of the voice respectively.
  4. Press Alt + W to change the reading speed. The rate or speed at which Read Out Loud reads documents is set in Words Per Minute. Type in the number of words per minute that are comfortable.

To change the speech attributes on Mac OS:

Press the Tab key to move to the option, then select it by pressing the spacebar.

Reading order

Left-to-right, top-to-bottom reading order and Use reading order in raw print stream are much faster than Infer reading order from document because they only deal with text and take a much simpler analysis strategy. Infer reading order from document should return more accurate results, but may be slower.

To change reading order settings on a Windows system:

  1. Press Alt + R and choose one of the following options:
    • Left-to-right, top-to-bottom reading order
    • Infer reading order from document (recommended)
    • Use reading order in raw print stream
  2. To override the reading order in tagged documents, press Alt + O. This is not a default setting.

To change reading order settings on Mac OS:

Press the Tab key to move to the option, then select it by pressing the spacebar.

The Reading category in the Preferences dialog box

The Reading category in the Preferences dialog box

There are additional settings for Adobe Reader 6.0 that can enhance on-screen viewing and can be used in combination with Read Out Loud. For more information on using on-screen enhancements, see “Section Three: Enhancing On-Screen Viewing”.

Reading a PDF document using Read Out Loud

There are two ways to access the Read Out Loud tool in Adobe Reader 6.0.

The following chart shows the keyboard shortcuts for accessing Read Out Loud:
Windows Mac OS

From the View menu:

  • Choose Alt + V for View, then A for Read Out Loud, and then O for Read this page only.
  • Choose Alt + V for View, then A for Read Out Loud, and then E for Read to end of document.
  • Choose Alt + V for View, then A for Read Out Loud, and then P to Pause reading. Note that if reading is paused, this command changes to Resume reading. Press the letter R to Resume reading.
  • Choose Alt + V for View, then A for Read Out Loud, and then S to Stop reading.

From the View menu:

  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Read this page
  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Read to end document.
  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Pause reading. that if reading is paused, this command changes Resume reading.
  • Choose View > Read Out Loud > Stop to stop

Keyboard commands are:

  • Ctrl + Shift + V to Read this page only.
  • Ctrl + Shift + B to Read to end of document.
  • Ctrl + Shift + C to Pause or Resume reading.
  • Ctrl + Shift + E to Stop reading.

Keyboard commands are:

  • Command + Shift + V to Read this page only.
  • Command + Shift + B to Read to end of document.
  • Command + Shift + C to Pause or Resume reading.
  • Command + Shift + E to Stop reading.

Other accessibility tools such as Reflow or Full Screen can be used with Read. For more information on using other accessibility tools with Read Out Loud, see “Using other Adobe Reader accessibility tools with on-screen enhancements to read PDF documents”.