I have had a heap of legislation and policy documents to read recently, and I was suffering. Then I had a sudden flash of belated enlightenment – use the text to voice function. I did and it was transformative.
Spending hours in front of a screen is necessary when I am doing research, but it does me in. GBS has left me in need of literally putting my feet up several times a day. My poor grip means that hard copy is a hassle, so electronic softcopy is the only option, and reading posture is different.
With text to voice I can put my feet up and keep reading.
Legislation and policy documents are not a literary genre known to keep you on the edge of your seat – unless you are comatose and about to slip inelegantly onto the floor. With text to voice you can read along with the voice. This improves focus during those difficult bits [often the whole document] and so aids retention of content.
Even at its least effective you get a really decent sense of the document while eyeballing the ceiling. I take notes on my iPhone for follow up – phrases to search rather than my own notes.
The result is that I am able to go through a lot of information quickly, use search phrases to tag follow up, and maintain my focus while resting when I need to.
How to make it happen
I use Mac, so PDFs are read in Preview. Finding text to voice is straight-forward – select text, hit Edit, go to Speech. Also see https://support.readdle.com/pdfexpert/en_US/reading-pdfs/read-pdf-text-out-loud
For Windows systems see https://www.thewindowsclub.com/best-free-pdf-voice-readers-for-windows-10
I have moved away from in ear and over ear headsets because they are either fiddly, lose power or are invasive.
I have gone to bone induction. A blind friend put on to Aftershokz’s Open Com – see https://shokz.com.au/products/opencomm
I put my set on at 8.30 this morning and its now 18:37, and after a full day of switching between podcasts, phone calls, a Teams meeting and listening to documents the Aftershokz are at 60% battery life.
Best of all there’s nothing in or over my ears. They stay in place all day without hassles and with no risk of falling off. Having something in or over my ears most of the day can disorientate me, and this can, strangely, adversely impact my sense of balance. Because the bone conduction headset doesn’t impede my hearing, I don’t have the same feeling. The sound producers sit in front of my ears.
Being able to listen to documents has been a huge advantage, allowing me to rest while working and focus with greater clarity when I need to.
I mention the bone conduction headset because, as I walk with Canadian crutches, I can’t respond to a phone call without finding some place to sit or lean unless I have a headset in or over my ear. But walking with anything in or over my ear impedes my hearing to some degree, and there’s a safety issue there. I can’t move fast to get out of the way of a danger, so reducing my hearing is not a great thing to do. I need to be as alert as I can.