Bruno, L., Ball, M., Kaldenberg, E., Bahr, P., & Willits, J. (2021). Direct instructions to teach students in a comprehensive transition program how to utilize text-to-speech software effectively . Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education , 3 (1).

Journal Article

Bruno, L., Ball, M., Kaldenberg, E., Bahr, P., & Willits, J. (2021). Direct instructions to teach students in a comprehensive transition program how to utilize text-to-speech software effectively. Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education, 3(1).


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Intellectual disabilities; Learning disabilities; Oral delivery; Postsecondary; Reading; Text-to-speech device/software; U.S. context




The effects of providing direct instruction on the use of oral delivery through a text-to-speech software application, Snap & Read via Google Chrome Extension (Don Johnston, Inc., 2016) were investigated. The software application had embedded accommodations and settings: adjusting speed, pitch, text font colors, option for picture-supported dictionary, color overlays, reading lines, removal of distractions, text leveling, and translation (if needed).


First-year postsecondary students with disabilities from a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) in the Fall university term participated. Students had disabilities including learning disabilities, intellectual disability, or developmental disability. Students' IQ scores were reported, and demographics such as age (ranging 18–26) and sex (male/female) were also noted. Students were registered for a required course on essential technology skills in education, workplace, and home which took place in a computer lab over a 16-week university term.

Dependent Variable

Five data collection instruments were used. (a) Pre/post-test with easyCBM passages with 20 corresponding comprehension questions (Alonzo et al., 2006) at the grade 3 and grade 6 levels based on student achievement on the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities, Fourth Edition (WJ-IV; Schrank et al., 2014) to determine reading levels through age equivalent scores which were translated into grade-equivalence levels. (b) Researcher-developed direct instruction programming program tracker (DIPPT)—which was used as a Google sheet for attendance, a 1/0 binary score for daily criteria reached, and additional notes. The attendance data included details of being on-time and staying to the end of the session, and completion of training steps of teacher modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. (c) Researcher-developed social validity pre/post self-report survey measure composed of 7 questions taken were completed before and after text-to-speech (TTS) reader instruction. Students were provided with a paper/pencil response sheet and projected display with read aloud. Anecdotal observational data were also collected on student generalization of independent use of TTS. (d) A generalization checklist and notes document was used for an additional class session to observe if/how students used TTS on their own devices (anecdotal observations). (e) A researcher-created direct observation fidelity data document was recorded through Qualtrics, with at least 2 observers for each session.


Students increased their use of text-to-speech (TTS) after receiving direct instruction on TTS software: no participants used TTS on the pre-assessment, then 63% of students (n=12) used TTS on the post-test. All participants (100%) were able to use the TTS software independently. Individual reading comprehension scores on both the grade 3 and grade 6 easyCBM ranged widely, yet the scores showed moderate improvement from pre-test to post-test. However, there were no significant group mean increases, and group medians increased but not to a significant degree. The group of students who used TTS during the post-test scored higher on average, but not to a significant degree, than the group of students not using TTS. Further, in comparison with pre-test results, there appeared to be greater differences in mean scores for students who used TTS, compared to those who did not, on the post-assessment, but these were not statistically significant. The social validity student self-report survey indicated that 74% of students were interested in using TTS in the future, 95% knew how to use it post-intervention, and 100% found the software to be helpful. Anecdotal data indicated that use of TTS was generalized, showing increased use, engagement, and independent accessing of material at higher reading levels. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.