Accommodations Toolkit

Text-to-speech: States' Accessibility Policies, 2020

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National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)

This summary of states’ accessibility policies for text-to-speech is part of the Accommodations Toolkit published by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO).[1] The toolkit also contains a summary of the research literature on text-to-speech.

Accessibility policies often have several tiers of accessibility features: universal features, designated features, and accommodations.[2] Figures 1 through 6 summarize how states included text-to-speech in their accessibility policies for students with disabilities in 2020. Tables 1, 2, and 3 show how text-to-speech was included in the policies, while Table 4 contains additional details and specifications.

Figure 1. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for Students with Disabilities on Reading/ELA/Writing, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 5 States
  • Designated Features (D): 15 States
  • Accommodations (A): 26 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 1 States
  • Designated Features (D): 1 States
  • Accommodations (A): 33 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 2 States
  • Designated Features (D): 16 States
  • Accommodations (A): 27 States

Figure 2. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for English Learners on Reading/ELA/Writing, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 5 States
  • Designated Features (D): 15 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 1 States
  • Designated Features (D): 1 States
  • Accommodations (A): 1 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 2 States
  • Designated Features (D): 16 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Figure 3. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for Students with Disabilities on Math, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 7 States
  • Designated Features (D): 16 States
  • Accommodations (A): 24 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 3 States
  • Designated Features (D): 17 States
  • Accommodations (A): 23 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 4 States
  • Designated Features (D): 17 States
  • Accommodations (A): 25 States

Figure 4. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for English Learners on Math, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 7 States
  • Designated Features (D): 16 States
  • Accommodations (A): 5 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 3 States
  • Designated Features (D): 17 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 4 States
  • Designated Features (D): 17 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Figure 5. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for Students with Disabilities on Science, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 6 States
  • Designated Features (D): 11 States
  • Accommodations (A): 22 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 2 States
  • Designated Features (D): 10 States
  • Accommodations (A): 21 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 3 States
  • Designated Features (D): 13 States
  • Accommodations (A): 22 States

Figure 6. States’ Accessibility Policies for Text-to-Speech for English Learners on Science, 2020

Directions

  • Universal Features (U): 6 States
  • Designated Features (D): 11 States
  • Accommodations (A): 5 States

Passages

  • Universal Features (U): 2 States
  • Designated Features (D): 10 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Questions

  • Universal Features (U): 3 States
  • Designated Features (D): 13 States
  • Accommodations (A): 4 States

Text-to-Speech (in English)

Table 1. Accommodation Policies for Text-to-Speech for Reading/ELA/Writing by State, 2020

U = Universal Feature, D = Designated Feature, A = Accommodation, ELA = English Language Arts, X = Allowed, SD = Allowed for Students with Disabilities, E = Allowed for English Learners, P = Prohibited, Blank cell = no policy found, N = Notes in Table 2

State

Directions

Passages

Questions

Grade or Other Note

U

D

A

U

D

A

U

D

A

Alabama

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Alaska

SD, E

P

SD, E

N

Arizona

X

X

X

Arkansas

SD

SD

SD

N

California

X

SD

SD

X

SD

N

Colorado

SD

SD

SD

N

Connecticut

X

SD

X

N

Delaware

X

SD

X

N

District of Columbia

SD

SD

SD

N

Florida

SD

SD

N

Georgia

SD

SD

N

Hawaii

X

SD

X

N

Idaho

X

SD

X

N

Illinois

SD

SD

SD

N

Indiana

SD

SD

SD

N

Iowa

SD

SD

SD

N

Kansas

X

SD

SD

N

Kentucky

Louisiana

SD

SD

SD

N

Maine

Maryland

SD

SD

SD

N

Massachusetts

SD

SD

SD

N

Michigan

X

SD

X

N

Minnesota

X

N

Mississippi

SD

SD

N

Missouri

X

SD

X

N

Montana

X

SD

X

N

Nebraska

SD, E

SD, E

N

Nevada

X

SD

X

N

New Hampshire

X

SD

X

SD

N

New Jersey

New Mexico

SD, E

SD, E

N

New York

SD

SD

SD

N

North Carolina

SD

N

North Dakota

X

X

X

N

Ohio

SD

SD

SD

N

Oklahoma

SD

N

Oregon

X

SD

X

N

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

SD

SD

SD

N

South Carolina

South Dakota

X

SD

X

N

Tennessee

Texas

SD

X*

SD

N

Utah

SD

SD

SD

N

Vermont

X

SD

X

N

Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Washington

X

SD

X

N

West Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Wisconsin

X

X

N

Wyoming

X

SD

X

SD

N

Total (Students with Disabilities)

5

15

26

1

1

33

2

16

27

Total (English Learners)

5

15

4

1

1

1

2

16

4

* See details/specifications for which passages qualify for this accommodation

Table 2. Accommodation Policies for Text-to-Speech for Mathematics by State, 2020

U = Universal Feature, D = Designated Feature, A = Accommodation, ELA = English Language Arts, X = Allowed, SD = Allowed for Students with Disabilities, E = Allowed for English Learners, Blank cell = no policy found, N = Notes in Table 2

State

Directions

Passages

Questions

Grade or Other Note

U

D

A

U

D

A

U

D

A

Alabama

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Alaska

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Arizona

X

X

X

Arkansas

SD

SD

SD

N

California

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

Colorado

SD

SD

SD

N

Connecticut

X

X

X

N

Delaware

X

X

X

N

District of Columbia

SD

SD

SD

N

Florida

SD

SD

SD

Georgia

SD

SD

N

Hawaii

X

X

X

N

Idaho

X

X

X

N

Illinois

X

X

X

N

Indiana

SD

SD

SD

Iowa

N

Kansas

X

SD

SD

N

Kentucky

Louisiana

SD

SD

SD

N

Maine

Maryland

X

X

X

N

Massachusetts

SD

SD

SD

N

Michigan

X

X

N

Minnesota

X

SD

SD

N

Mississippi

SD

SD

N

Missouri

X

X

N

Montana

X

X

X

N

Nebraska

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Nevada

X

X

X

N

New Hampshire

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

New Jersey

New Mexico

SD, E

X

N

New York

SD

SD

SD

N

North Carolina

SD

SD

SD

N

North Dakota

X

X

X

N

Ohio

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

Oklahoma

SD

SD

SD

N

Oregon

X

X

X

N

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

South Carolina

South Dakota

X

X

X

N

Tennessee

Texas

SD

SD

SD

N

Utah

SD

SD

SD

N

Vermont

X

X

X

N

Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Washington

X

X

X

N

West Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Wisconsin

X

X

X

N

Wyoming

X

X

X

N

Total (Students with Disabilities)

7

16

24

3

17

23

4

17

25

Total (English Learners)

7

16

5

3

17

4

4

17

4

Table 3. Accommodation Policies for Text-to-Speech for Science by State, 2020

U = Universal Feature, D = Designated Feature, A = Accommodation, ELA = English Language Arts, X = Allowed, SD = Allowed for Students with Disabilities, E = Allowed for English Learners, Blank cell = no policy found, N = Notes in Table 2

State

Directions

Passages

Questions

Grade or Other Note

U

D

A

U

D

A

U

D

A

Alabama

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Alaska

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Arizona

X

X

X

Arkansas

SD

SD

SD

N

California

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

Colorado

SD

SD

SD

N

Connecticut

X

X

X

N

Delaware

X

X

N

District of Columbia

Florida

SD

SD

SD

N

Georgia

SD

SD

N

Hawaii

N

Idaho

X

X

X

N

Illinois

N

Indiana

SD

SD

SD

N

Iowa

N

Kansas

X

SD

X

N

Kentucky

Louisiana

SD

SD

SD

N

Maine

Maryland

X

X

X

N

Massachusetts

SD

SD

SD

N

Michigan

X

N

Minnesota

X

SD

SD

N

Mississippi

SD

SD

N

Missouri

X

X

N

Montana

N

Nebraska

SD, E

SD, E

SD, E

N

Nevada

N

New Hampshire

X

SD

X

SD

X

SD

N

New Jersey

New Mexico

SD, E

X

N

New York

SD

SD

SD

N

North Carolina

SD

SD

SD

N

North Dakota

X

X

X

N

Ohio

X

E

X

E

X

E

N

Oklahoma

SD

SD

SD

N

Oregon

X

X

X

N

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

SD

SD

SD

N

South Carolina

South Dakota

N

Tennessee

Texas

SD

SD

SD

N

Utah

SD

SD

SD

N

Vermont

N

Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Washington

X

X

X

N

West Virginia

SD

SD

SD

N

Wisconsin

X

X

X

N

Wyoming

X

X

X

N

Total (Students with Disabilities)

6

11

22

2

10

21

3

13

22

Total (English Learners)

6

11

5

2

10

4

3

13

4

Table 4. Details and Specifications: States' Text-to-speech Accessibility Policies

State

Details/Specifications

Alabama

ELA/Reading/Writing: English text-to-speech is available for the Language and Writing sessions of the English Language Arts test.

The TTS accommodation is used for students who have a documented reading disability that is indicated in the IEP or Section 504 Plan as a “read aloud” accommodation. This accommodation is untimed.

The student uses this support to hear pre-recorded or generated audio of directions or test items. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Spanish Text-to-Speech: Spanish Text-to-Speech/Human Reader is available for Math and Science only. This accommodation is available for all EL students who receive this accommodation on a regular basis as documented in the I-ELP. This accommodation may not be identified in the I-ELP as “Text-to-Speech” but rather as a read aloud accommodation.

Alaska

Allows students to start, stop, or replay computer audio of the test associated with the content on the screen for all content areas.

Use of the test-contractor provided audio CD is required if the student’s plan requires a read aloud accommodation. The CD includes assessment questions and answer choices. A test administrator may administer a ‘read aloud’ accommodation if student’s plan specifically designates a human read aloud.

ELA: Text-to-Speech does NOT read the passages associated with ELA reading items.

Arkansas

Definition: Converts on-screen test directions and test items into spoken voice output. Orienting descriptions tell examinees where they are on the screen.

Recommended Usage: Examinees with a learning disability in reading comprehension or decoding, or examinees with a visual impairment.

Personal Needs Profile Selection:

  • English Text-to-Speech Audio (intended for user with ability to see graphics)
  • English Text-to-Speech Audio + Orienting Description (intended for user with blindness or low vision; requires braille + tactile graphics companion and response support to record responses)

Notes: When administered in a small group, each examinee must have their own headphones. Extra testing time of 300% is recommended. Requires time for shipment of orienting description materials.

California

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as the volume of the voice.

ELA: This resource is a designated support for stimuli and items, but not for reading passages. This resource is an accommodation for reading passages.

Colorado

Embedded CBT auditory presentation feature that reads the item and answer options to students (requires UAR for ELA). This auditory presentation of the assessment replaces the need for an adult reading from an oral script. TTS must be pre-assigned to students, as needed. TTS is an accessibility feature for math, science, and social studies available to individual students based on need.

While the TTS accessibility feature is available to all students, it may not be appropriate for all students. This accessibility feature increases file sizes for testing which may result in slower computer response times for all students on the network. Students eligible for TTS should be using similar access strategies during instruction.

Math/Science:

Text-to-speech is the computer-based auditory presentation feature available to students who are unable to decode printed or tactile code. These students receive auditory presentation of text during instruction and classroom-based assessment. Through TTS, on-screen text is read aloud to the student by means of embedded text-to-speech software.

Word-for-word highlighting accompanies the device’s reading of the on-screen text. Just before a section of text is read, it is highlighted in yellow; each word in that section is highlighted in blue as it is read by the device. When words that appear in an image or graphic are read, the entire graphic panel is highlighted by a blue box. Note: Highlight colors may change if different color contrast settings are selected.

Students assigned to the TTS form determine how and when they interact with the feature. The student may utilize the TTS tool in two ways.

  1. Select the “Play” button for all text to be read from the beginning of the item to the end, including sources.
  2. The “Toggle Click-to-Hear” button allows the student to select the starting point for activating TTS.

If tested in a group, students assigned to the TTS form must wear headphones. Students must set the volume at such a level that there is no sound leakage to surrounding students. Students must verify the volume is “turned on” before signing in to TestNav by using the “Test Audio” function on the TestNav sign in screen. These students may take the assessment with other students who are using TTS, as well as students who are not using TTS. Students who are unable to use headphones may use speakers; however, this accessibility feature and consideration requires testing in a one-on-one environment.

During testing, TTS is only available to students who were pre-assigned the TTS form through the SR/PNP in PAnext during form assignment.

Students should have the opportunity to practice with TTS functionalities on the student practice resources prior to testing. Functionality is dependent upon specific item type. Students may only use TTS through TestNav. Device operating system accessibility features are not allowed during testing.

ELA:

For students assigned to computer-based testing who have verified use of auditory presentation, all students will receive text-to-speech.

TTS for ELA is an adjustment to the assessment administration. The district must submit a Modification Verification Submission spreadsheet for verification by CDE Assessment prior to assigning this modification to any student. Assigning ELA TTS without approval from CDE will result in test invalidation or suppression of scores.

Connecticut

Math/Science/ELA (excluding ELA reading passages): Allows text to be read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech (TTS) technology. The student is able to control the speed, as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. Text-to-speech is available as an embedded designated support for science, math, and ELA items (not for ELA reading passages, which is available to eligible students with an active IEP or 504 Plan as an embedded accommodation).

ELA reading passages: This accommodation allows the reading passages to be read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. This accommodation is only for students in Grades 3-8 with a documented print disability, or for blind students who do not yet have adequate braille skills. Information on selecting this accommodation for appropriate students is found in Guidelines for Choosing Text-to-Speech or Read Aloud for Smarter Balanced. Text-to-speech for ELA reading passages is not available for English learners (unless the EL student has an IEP or 504 Plan documenting this needed accommodation). The text-to-speech for ELA reading passages accommodation is intended for a small group of students. The 2020-21 Decision Guidelines for Text-to-Speech of the Smarter Balanced ELA Reading Passages must be submitted electronically to the CSDE prior to testing for each student being provided this accommodation. When text-to-speech is used, appropriate headphones must be available to the student, unless the student is tested individually in a separate setting.

Delaware

Students can hear the text of items and stimuli/passages (excluding simulations) read aloud through embedded text-to-speech software. Students can use the feature by selecting the play button to play from the beginning. Alternatively, students can use the Select to Hear function, which allows students to hear a specific section of text read aloud. To active Select to Hear, students simply select the text that they would like to hear by right clicking and holding down the mouse button.

Designated support: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. Student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. Students who are struggling readers may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities, or by students who are blind and do not yet have adequate braille skills. Students would need to use this support regularly during instruction to meaningfully benefit from it on assessments. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting. TTS for Questions and stim/passages for ELA PT, Math CAT, and Math PT can be selected by school and district staff. TTS and Human Reader are NOT interchangeable. Each must be selected separately and considered carefully if a student needs both accommodations. TTS is preferred but there are some students for which TTS can be difficult for them to use or they are not familiar with it.

ELA reading passages: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. Student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students would need to use this support regularly during instruction. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting. TTS for ELA passages can only be activated by DOE. TTS and Human Reader are NOT interchangeable and must be considered carefully if a student needs both accommodations. Complete Appendix B-1. References: See Appendix B-2 and Appendix A-7.

Text + graphics: Text of items and stimuli/passages (excluding simulations) and descriptions of graphics are read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech software. Students can use the feature by selecting the play button to play from the beginning or the megaphone icon to specify where to start reading.

District of Columbia

Math: Student uses a human reader, human signer, text-to-speech function, or audio file to hear the test questions and passages read aloud. Non-ELA/Literacy assessments may include the PARCC Mathematics Assessment.

ELA: Student uses a human reader, human signer, or text-to-speech function to hear the test questions and passages read aloud for ELA/Literacy assessments. This accommodation is intended to provide access to printed or written texts on ELA/Literacy assessments to a very small number of students with print-related disabilities who would otherwise be unable to participate in the assessment because their disability severely limits or prevents their ability to access printed text by decoding. This accommodation is not intended for students reading somewhat (i.e., only moderately) below grade level. Students with a visual impairment who are unable to read braille, and students with a hearing impairment that severely limits their ability to decode text may also qualify for this accommodation.

Florida

ELA/Reading/Writing: For computer-based test administrations, a student may use the text-to-speech (TTS) accommodation for oral presentation of prompts, items, and answer choices. TTS will not be enabled on passages in ELA Reading and ELA Writing tests.

Georgia

Included as screen reader accommodation.

Hawaii

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Idaho

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Illinois

Math:

The student selects the “Text-to-Speech Player” icon on the toolbar on the right side of the screen. The test is read aloud to the student using embedded text-to-speech software. The student may pause and resume the audio. To choose a speed (slow, normal, fast), select the “Text-to-Speech Settings” icon.

Differences Between Text Only and Text Plus Graphics:

Text Plus GraphicsReads all printed text and the hidden alternate text descriptions for images.

Text OnlyReads printed text but does not read any alternate text descriptions for images.

ELA:

Purpose: The purpose of the embedded text-to-speech, ASL video, and Human Reader/Human Signer accommodation for the ELA/literacy assessment is to provide access to printed or written texts on the ELA/literacy assessments for a very small number of students with print-related disabilities who would otherwise be unable to participate in the assessment because their disability severely limits or prevents their ability to access printed text by decoding. This accommodation is not intended for students reading somewhat (i.e., only moderately) below grade level.

A student receives an audio representation of the ELA assessment either through embedded text-to-speech, embedded ASL video, or a Human Reader/Signer. For Human Reader, the Test Administrator will need to reference Appendix I: ELA Audio Guidelines. Note: If headphones are not used for text-to-speech, or the student has a Human Reader or Signer, the student must be tested in a separate setting.

Indiana

TTS is a reading accommodation support provided through the online platform. The student uses headphones which allows them personal control and more independence, especially when testing in a large group. The online delivery of this accommodation produces a virtual one-to-one experience for students. Students that take IREAD-3 using TTS as an accommodation will not have items that measure reading comprehension read aloud. Students that participate in ILEARN grades 3-8 and ISTEP+ can have all items and passages including items that measure reading comprehension read aloud via TTS if the case conference committee determines the accommodation is appropriate based on student need.

Iowa

The student uses this feature to hear pre-recorded or generated audio of tasks.

Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Kansas

Universal: Students can choose to have a synthetic voice read directions aloud on all assessments.

Science: Students can choose to have a synthetic voice read directions and items aloud on the science assessment.

Accommodations: A synthetic voice will read directions, text, and test items.

ELA: A synthetic voice will read ELA passages and test items. In ELA only very few students with an IEP, 504, or student intervention plan will receive this accommodation. Please contact Cary Rogers, KSDE for this accommodation.

Louisiana

The Text-to-Speech (TTS) function is available for students testing online who require that their test be read aloud. TTS allows students testing online to listen via headphones or speakers to test information displayed on the screen. Words and numbers, including test directions, questions, answer choices, and other information will be read aloud and can be repeated as necessary.

Audio will begin immediately when the student navigates next/back to each question. On-screen audio controls are provided, allowing the students to pause the audio, adjust the audio volume, turn on/off the follow along feature, and indicate specific areas of the question they wish to replay.

Maryland

Math/Science:

Differences Between Text Only and Text Plus Graphics:

  • Text Plus GraphicsReads all printed text and the hidden alternate text descriptions for images.
  • Text OnlyReads printed text but does not read any alternate text descriptions for images.

ELA/Reading/Writing: The purpose of the embedded text-to-speech accommodation is to provide access to printed or written texts in ELA/L for a very small number of students with print disabilities who would otherwise be unable to participate in instruction or assessment because their disability severely limits their ability to access print. This accommodation is not intended for students reading somewhat (i.e., only moderately) below grade level. In making decisions on whether to provide the student with this accommodation, IEP teams and 504 Plan Coordinators are instructed to consider whether the student has:

  • Blindness or a visual impairment and has not yet learned (or is unable to use) braille; OR
  • A disability that severely limits or prevents them from accessing printed text, even after varied and repeated attempts to teach the student to do so (e.g., student is unable to decode printed text); OR
  • Deafness or a hearing impairment and is severely limited or prevented from decoding text due to a documented history of early and prolonged language deprivation.

When determining the need for this accommodation, it is important to consider the purpose of the tests the student will be taking and the skills the test is intending to measure so that it can be determined how the accommodation might affect the results.

Massachusetts

Math/Science:

  • TTS may be used either with or without headphones.
  • If a TTS-enabled version of the computer-based test is used with headphones, the student may be tested in a typical-size group. If student will not use headphones, student must be tested individually in a separate setting.
  • Students should view the tutorial and take an online TTS practice test prior to testing If the student is unable to use the TTS feature, but has this accommodation listed in his or her plan, a human reader may be substituted.

TTS for ELA is a special access accommodation (SA 1.1). See Table 5 for guidelines and criteria to receive this accommodation.

ELA/Reading/Writing:

This accommodation is intended for a small number of students with disabilities that severely limit or prevent them from reading, as documented in locally administered diagnostic evaluations.

The student must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be virtually unable to read, even after varied and repeated attempts to teach the student to do so (i.e., the student is at the very beginning stages of learning to read, and not simply reading below grade level), as determined by locally administered diagnostic evaluations; and
  • receive ongoing intervention to learn the skill of reading; and
  • use this accommodation routinely (except during instruction in learning to read).

The human read aloud (SA1.2) may also be provided to a student who is blind or has a visual impairment and uses a screen reader and/or has not yet learned (or is unable to use) Braille on the tests and retests listed above. If the student will use a screen reader, a separate hard copy Braille test edition will be sent to the school to allow the student to access the appropriate Braille graphics (see accommodation A3.1).

The student

  • may be tested in a typical-sized group if using text-to-speech with headphones;
  • must be tested individually in a separate setting if text-to-speech will be used without headphones; and
  • may be tested in a group of up to five students if a human reader will be used.

Michigan

Text-to-Speech (TTS) test directions are available for all students.

Minnesota

Math/Science: Accommodated text-to-speech is available for the online Mathematics and Science MCAs. Accommodated text-to-speech provides computer-generated audio for charts and graphs in addition to the audio that is provided for standard text-to-speech. With either type of text-to-speech, students can select the parts of the item they want to listen to (e.g., specific sentences or all text-to-speech). Because accommodated text-to-speech also provides audio for all the labels, graphs, and charts, it may be a heavy language load beneficial for a limited number of students with an IEP or 504 plan. Typically, only a small number of students need accommodated text-to-speech; the default should be the standard text-to-speech available as a general support on the Mathematics and Science MCAs. Refer to the item samplers on PearsonAccess Next to hear examples of both types of text-to-speech to help determine which is best based on individual student needs.

Text-to-speech directions are available for all subjects, including reading.

Mississippi

Included as screen reader accommodation.

Missouri

Read Aloud is a Universal Tool that allows the student to have test directions and items (questions and answer choices) in all content areas presented to them orally via Text-To-Speech or a Human Reader. The presentation of ELA Reading Passages via Read Aloud requires and IEP or 504 plan.

ELA reading passages: A student must have the accommodation listed in their IEP/504 plan in order to have reading passages in English Language Arts read aloud. Blind students who do not yet possess adequate Braille skills with this accommodation in their IEP/504 plan may have the ELA Reading Passages read aloud by a human reader.

Montana

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Nebraska

Linguistic supports for English learners:

The student uses this feature to hear generated audio of directions, content, and test items.

Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Accommodations for students with disabilities:

The student uses this feature to hear generated audio of directions, content, and test items. ELA passages may not be read aloud. Items that test writing skills and look like longer passages may be read aloud. Typically, passages that may not be read aloud are on the left side of a split screen.

Students with reading-related disabilities may need assistance accessing instructional content. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Nevada

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

New Hampshire

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students.

Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan or a designated support for those students for whom this support has been deemed necessary by the school’s educational support team prior to the test.

Text-to-speech will not be an available accommodation for the reading portion of the ELA test. It will be available for the writing portion of the ELA test. Content experts agree that this accommodation should not be provided during the reading portion because it would compromise the construct being measured.

Reports can be run to indicate the percent of students who had access to text-to-speech on reading test passages.

Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

New Mexico

Directions: For SWD and ELs who are unable to decode text visually. Read aloud test directions, not test items. Hearing directions read allows the content, not the language, to be tested. Definitions of words are not provided. PBT may be used individually or in small group testing.

Test items: For students who are unable to decode text visually. Scripted oral accommodation in English. Allows the content, not the language, to be tested. Used individually or in small group testing with PBT. Refer to test manual when assigning to ELA assessments.

New York

Text-to-speech capabilities are embedded within the Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics CBT platform and may be activated prior to testing for a student with a disability if included in the testing accommodation recommendations in the student’s IEP/504 plan. If a student is using text-to-speech software as a testing accommodation for a paper-based State Assessment or Examination, the school must submit to the Office of State Assessment a request for approval to reformat the test.

North Carolina

There are three methods in which a student may have a test read aloud: (1) the test administrator reads the test aloud, (2) a computer reads the test aloud, or (3) a combination of the two methods.

North Dakota

Text is read aloud to the learner via embedded text-to-speech technology or a human reader.

Ohio

Math/Science:

Text-to-speech as a universal tool will be turned on for mathematics, science, and social studies. The text-to-speech feature reads aloud the test to the student when the student selects an available “speak” option. Students must use headphones for text-to-speech if tested in a group setting. Students who use text-to-speech should use a voice pack they are familiar with and adjust the volume, pitch and rate prior to starting the test. Volume, pitch and rate can also be adjusted while in the Student Testing Site. Detailed information about text-to-speech functionality is in the Test Administration Manuals. Text-to-speech is not available for the OGT.

Text-to-speech tracking: The feature will highlight words in test questions as the embedded text-to-speech feature reads the test aloud. Only students who meet the criteria to have a read-aloud accommodation on the English language arts test may use this feature for English language arts. Text-to-speech tracking is not available for the OGT.

ELA/Reading/Writing:

Only students who meet the criteria to have a read-aloud accommodation on the English language arts test may use this feature for English language arts.

The text-to-speech feature reads aloud the test to the student when the student selects an available “speak” option. Student must use headphones if tested in a group setting. Only students who meet the criteria to have a read-aloud accommodation on the English language arts test may use this feature for English language arts. Students who use text-to-speech should use a voice pack they are familiar with and adjust the volume, pitch and rate prior to starting the test. Detailed information about text-to-speech functionality is in the Test Administration Manual. Manuals are available on Ohio’s State Tests Portal. Text-to-speech is not available for the OGT.

Text-to-speech tracking: The feature will highlight words in test questions as the embedded text-to-speech feature reads the test aloud. Only students who meet the criteria to have a read-aloud accommodation on the English language arts test may use this feature for English language arts. Text-to-speech tracking is not available for the OGT.

Read aloud:

“Read-aloud” as a general term is when a student is administered a test via text-to-speech, human reader, screen reader or sign language interpreter. The read-aloud accommodation for the English language arts test is intended to provide access for a very small number of students to printed or written texts on the tests. These students have print-related disabilities and otherwise would be unable to participate in the state tests because their disabilities severely limit or prevent them from decoding, thus accessing printed text. Because students who require this accommodation are unable to access printed text, they must have a read-aloud for the entire test, including the items, answer options, charts/graphs/figures and passages. This accommodation is not intended for students reading somewhat (only moderately) below grade level. Reading only questions and answer options to a student is not allowable on the ELA test. If a student qualifies for this accommodation, then they must have the entire test read, including the passages.

In making decisions on whether to provide a student with this accommodation, IEP teams and 504 plan coordinators should consider whether the student has:

A disability that severely limits or prevents him or her from accessing printed text, even after varied and repeated attempts to teach the student to do so (for example, the student is unable to decode printed text); OR

Blindness or a visual impairment and has not learned (or is unable to use) Braille; OR

Deafness or hearing loss and is severely limited or prevented from decoding text due to a documented history of early and prolonged language deprivation.

English learners:

Not allowed for the English language arts test. The text-to-speech feature reads aloud the test to the student. Students who use text-to-speech should use a voice pack they are familiar with and adjust the volume, pitch and rate prior to starting the test. Detailed information about text-to-speech functionality is in the Test Administration Manual. Manuals are available on Ohio’s State Tests Portal. Recommended for beginning and some intermediate English learners but may not be appropriate for advanced-level English learners. Text-to-speech is not available for the OGT.

Text-to-speech tracking: Not allowed for the English language arts test. The feature will highlight words in test questions as the embedded text-to-speech feature reads the test aloud. May help some students who use text-to-speech. Text-to-speech tracking is not available for the OGT.

Oklahoma

Text-to-Speech, Human Reader, or Sign Language Interpretation *P4 applies to all Math, Science, and U.S. History test sections and Grades 5 & 8 ELA writing/extended constructed response sections only

  • Text-to-Speech is built into the online testing client, requires the use of earphones, and may be administered in individual, small group, or regular setting. (All Math, Science, U.S. History tests, and Grades 5 & 8 ELA Section 3 only.)

ELA/Reading/Writing:

Text-to-Speech, Human Reader, or Sign Language Interpretation Accommodation for the OSTP English Language Arts Assessments.

  • Text-to-Speech is built into the online testing client, requires the use of earphones, and may be administered in individual, small group, or regular setting for Grades 3, 4, 6, & 7.
  • Text-to-Speech is available on the Writing Section only of ELA Grades 5 & 8. Students requiring the Read-Aloud Accommodation for all sections of ELA Grades 5 & 8 must have a Human Reader for Sections 1 & 2.

Oregon

Designated Support

Math/ELA: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology, including the student’s written responses to text response items. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. And, if appropriate for the student, a “Tracking” feature can be enabled in TA interface which highlights words as they are being read aloud by TTS. English text-to-speech is also available for Math for students with the Translations (stacked Spanish/English) designated support assigned to them. Students who are struggling readers may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities, or by students who are blind and do not yet have adequate Braille skills. This support will likely be confusing and may impede the performance of students who do not regularly have the support during instruction. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Science: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology, including the student’s written responses to text response items. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. And, if appropriate for the student, a “Tracking” feature can be enabled in TA interface which highlights words as they are being read aloud by TTS. Text-to-speech is also available in Spanish for students with the Translation (Spanish/English) designated support. Note: the Spanish text-to-speech requires installation of a separate Spanish voice pack. Instructions are included in the TIDE User Guide. Students who are struggling readers may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities, or by students who are blind and do not yet have adequate Braille skills. This support will likely be confusing and may impede the performance of students who do not regularly have the support during instruction. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Accommodation:

ELA reading: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology, including the student’s written responses to text response items. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control. And, if appropriate for the student, a “Tracking” feature can be enabled in TA interface which highlights words as they are being read aloud by TTS. This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Rhode Island

DLM:

SPOKEN AUDIO. Synthetic Spoken Audio (read aloud with highlighting) is read from left to right and top to bottom. Three preferences are available for Spoken Audio:

  • text only
  • text and graphics
  • nonvisual (this preference also describes page layout for students who are blind or have visual impairments).

NGSA:

TEXT-TO-SPEECH: Student uses embedded Text-to-Speech feature in the Test Delivery Platform for read aloud. The student can control the speed and the volume. Using headphones: student may be tested in a typical-size group. Not using headphones: student must be tested in a separate setting.

RICAS:

TEXT-TO-SPEECH FOR ELA: Use of embedded text-to-speech function for the ELA test, including test questions, response options, and passages, with or without headphones. Criteria: This accommodation for a student who has a disability(ies) that severely limits or prevents them from reading, as documented in locally administered diagnostic evaluations. The student must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be virtually unable to read, even after varied and repeated attempts to teach the student to do so (i.e., the student is at the very beginning stages of learning to read, and not simply reading below grade level); and
  • uses this accommodation routinely (except during reading instruction); and
  • receives ongoing intervention to learn the skill.

The student:

  • may be tested in a typical-sized group if using text-to-speech with headphones;
  • must be tested individually, in a separate setting, if text-to-speech will be used without headphones;
  • may be tested in a group of no more than 5 students if a human reader is used.

TEXT-TO-SPEECH FOR MATH: Student requires text-to-speech (TTS) for math tests in English. Text is read aloud using embedded text-to-speech technology in TestNav. The student can control the volume.

NOTES:

  • Using headphones: student may be tested in a typical-size group.
  • Not using headphones: student must be tested in a separate setting.
  • Reading aloud selected words on the Mathematics tests is an accessibility feature and may be more appropriate for students who need occasional reading assistance.

ENGLISH LEARNERS

RICAS: TEXT-TO-SPEECH FOR MATH: Student requires text-to-speech (TTS) for math tests in English. Text is read aloud using embedded text-to-speech technology in TestNav. The student can control the volume. Using headphones: student may be tested in a typical-size group. Not using headphones: student must be tested in a separate setting. Reading aloud selected words is an accessibility feature and may be provided to students taking the Spanish version of the RICAS math and NGSA science tests.

South Dakota

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Texas

Oral/Signed Administration:

This designated support allows test material to be read aloud or signed to a student. All references to reading support during an oral administration also apply to signing during a signed administration. An online oral/signed administration is administered via text-to-speech (TTS) or American Sign Language (ASL) videos.

For a student who meets the eligibility criteria, this designated support may be used on paper and online tests for:

  • STAAR and STAAR Spanish mathematics, science, and social studies
    • Test questions, answer choices, and embedded supports can be read aloud.
    • Required reference materials (where applicable) and allowable designated supports may be read aloud.
  • STAAR and STAAR Spanish reading
    • Test questions, answer choices, and embedded supports can be read aloud.
    • Required reference materials (where applicable) and allowable designated supports may be read aloud.
    • Reading selections CANNOT be read aloud.
  • STAAR and STAAR Spanish writing
    • Revising passages, revising test questions and answer choices, and embedded supports can be read aloud.
    • Required reference materials (where applicable) and allowable designated supports may be read aloud.
    • Editing passages, test questions, and answer choices CANNOT be read aloud.
  • STAAR English I, English II, and English III
    • Reading test questions and answer choices, revising passages, revising test questions and answer choices, and embedded supports can be read aloud.
    • Required reference materials and allowable designated supports may be read aloud.
    • Reading selections, editing passages, and editing test questions and answer choices CANNOT be read aloud.

Utah

Computer‐based assessments may have embedded text‐to‐speech that standardizes the way text and graphics are presented. Descriptions of symbols, nomenclature, and other graphics can be provided with text‐to‐speech. Text‐to‐speech technology may be provided for an assessment for items where the construct of the item is not violated. For example, text‐to‐speech would not be available on a reading test for reading items because it would violate the construct of the test item.

RISE/Utah Aspire Plus: Embedded and allowed for any student. If the reading of any portion of an ELA, mathematics, or science item violates the construct of that item, text-to-speech will not be available. When text-to-speech is appropriate, it will be available to select onscreen.

NAEP: Embedded

Vermont

Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: This accommodation is appropriate for a very small number of students. Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Virginia

Students with disabilities that impact their ability to read may have test items read aloud in English by the test examiner using the read-aloud accommodation or delivered through an audio or text-to-speech player in an online test. The IEP Team or 504 Committee must determine whether the audio or read-aloud accommodation is the most appropriate delivery method for the student for online or paper testing.

The online audio accommodation for the 2016 Mathematics SOL tests, the 2017 Reading SOL tests, and the 2015 History SOL tests (Virginia Studies, Civics and Economics, and Virginia and United States History) will be delivered through the text-to-speech feature in TestNav. The online audio accommodation for the World History to 1500 test, World History from 1500 to the Present test, World Geography test, all Science tests, and all Writing tests will continue to use the audio player in TestNav.

Washington

Text-to-speech (student responses): Text that the student entered into the response box for a constructed response is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology when they select the [audio button] at the bottom of the response box.

Text-to-speech (test content): Text in the items and/or stimuli is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

ELA reading passages: The text-to-speech designated support is not for ELA CAT reading passages. Passage text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice.

West Virginia

Excluding ELA reading passages:

Description: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student can control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

Instructional practices: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology.

When to select: For students who are struggling readers and who may need assistance accessing the assessment by having the assessment read aloud, excluding ELA reading passages. This accommodation may be needed by students with reading-related or visional impairment disabilities. This option may also be appropriate for EL students.

Including ELA reading passages:

Description: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology or using assistive technology. The student can control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via a volume control.

Instructional practices:

  • Nearly all text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology or a human on a daily basis.
  • Teacher or assistant reads aloud instructions.
  • Listening skills are taught using read-aloud material, and then students are checked for understanding.
  • Students listen to a prerecorded audio interpretation (book-on-tape) of text or a book.
  • The student receives accessible educational materials (AEM) for instructional purposes.

When to select:

  • The student is blind or has low vision.
  • The student is a beginning braille reader who has not yet developed braille fluency.
  • The student whose disability severely affects his/her ability to read passages independently and who utilize classroom accommodations such as text-to-speech, audio recordings, and/or a human reader during classroom instruction and during classroom assessments.

Wisconsin

The text-to-speech (TTS) function allows the student to listen via headphones or speakers to test information displayed on the screen. Words and numbers, test directions, questions, answer choices, and other information is read aloud by the computer and may be replayed as necessary.

Text-to-speech (TTS) (computer voice) is allowed as a designated support for all grades in mathematics, science, social studies, and English language arts (ELA) as appropriate (not allowed for ELA Reading Session reading passages). With this feature, test content is read aloud by the computer in the English language. The TTS designated support is intended only for students who are struggling readers who may need assistance accessing the assessment or for students with reading-related disabilities. Students should use a similar support on a regular basis in the classroom. Allowing TTS for all students is not a proper use of this support. Students who use this support will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Wyoming

Designated Support:

Text-to-speech: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via volume control.

Students who are struggling readers may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities, or by students who are blind and do not have adequate braille skills. This support requires routine practice and familiarization during daily instruction in order to avoid undue confusion and/or impedance on performance during testing. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Text-to-speech tracking: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. Words are highlighted as they are read aloud by text-to-speech. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via volume control.

Students who are struggling readers may need assistance visually tracking portions of the assessment being read aloud by the testing platform via digital speech. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting.

Accommodation for ELA items and passages:

Text-to-speech: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via volume control. See Appendix D: Text-to-Speech, Human Reader/Human Signer Decision-Making Tool

Text-to-speech is available as an accommodation for students whose need is documented in an IEP or 504 Plan. ELL students may only receive this accommodation if it is documented in their IEP or 504 Plan. Students who use text-to-speech will need headphones unless tested individually in a separate setting

Text-to-speech tracking: Text is read aloud to the student via embedded text-to-speech technology. Words are highlighted as they are read aloud by text-to-speech. The student is able to control the speed as well as raise or lower the volume of the voice via volume control. See Appendix D: Text-to-Speech, Human Reader/Human Signer Decision-Making Tool

Students who are struggling readers may need assistance visually tracking portions of the assessment read aloud. This support also may be needed by students with reading-related disabilities.

Attribution

All rights reserved. Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced and distributed without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

  • Lazarus, S. S., Quanbeck, M., Hinkle, A. R., & Albus, D. (2021). Text-to-speech (computer generated voice): States’ accessibility policies, 2020 (NCEO Accommodations Toolkit #4b). National Center on Educational Outcomes.

NCEO is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326G160001) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. The Center is affiliated with the Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. NCEO does not endorse any of the commercial products used in the studies. The contents of this report were developed under the Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education, but does not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Project Officer: David Egnor