Text-to-Speech Software: Kurzweil

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Have you heard of Kurzweil? I use a lot of different text-to-speech (TTS) software, but Kurzweil 3000 is the most powerful and sophisticated program I’ve tried. It’s designed for educational purposes, and I wanted to post about it here particularly for those who might be experiencing low vision beyond their school days.

Kurzweil can recognize text—meaning you can scan almost anything and it can be read aloud. This includes everyday items that aren’t available as audiobooks or that can’t be read by more basic TTS programs. Plus, the software is multilingual, so it can recognize and read texts in many languages. Though I use it mostly for reading, you can also do word processing, and it’s also possible to download the audio and listen to the text on the go.

I’m a graduate student, so I was able to get free access to Kurzweil 3000 through the disabled students program at my university.

For those not connected to a learning institution, you can download Kurzweil as an independent user—what Kurzweil calls its “single subscription” option. The subscription for single users on the web version costs $500/year, and the subscription gives you access to Kurzweil from different devices. Another option is to do a one-time purchase of the stand-alone version to be used on the specific computer its downloaded to. This version is $1395.

So, it’s by no means inexpensive. But it can be invaluable if you are someone who needs to read through a large amount of material that is not readily available in audio form. They offer a free 30-day trial, at least, so you can test out the program to see if it will meet your needs.

One caveat: if you’re using Kurzweil to read hard-copies, you’d need to have access to a scanner. For small scans, I recommend the app GeniusScan, which you can download for free on your phone. It uses your camera to make a quick, clean scan of whatever text you’re taking a photo of.

More posts on other types of TTS software coming soon, but Kurzweil is one you might want to try for professional or educational purposes.

Have you already tried Kurzweil? I’d be interested to hear about your experience!