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Useful apps to help with reading on your phone

Line of old mobile phones displaying text
Line of old mobile phones displaying text
Credit: Installation of old mobile phones by Trystan Williams MA: Fine Art Digital. UAL Image Library
Written by
Carmen Fernandez
Published date
15 February 2021

If you download a document from your email or the web and find it hard to read on your mobile device there are two free simple-to-use reading apps that can help.

ClaroSpeak

ClaroSpeak is a free reading app that allows you to change a Word document’s font and colour for easier reading. It also has text-to-speech so it can read the text back to you.

Making reading easier:

  • Download the ClaroSpeak app from Google Play or the Apple Store.
  • Open ClaroSpeak app and go to the File menu.
  • Select Open File to open a Word document stored on your phone, Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.
  • You can also select New File and copy and paste text from the web or any unsupported file. If you want to keep this new document, select Save File from the File menu.
  • From the File menu select Settings to change the font type, font size and the text and background colours.

Text-to-speech:

  • Use the Play and Stop buttons to have text read back to you.

Tip: From the File menu, select Settings to change the voice and language. The voices and language options available to you depend on your device.

ClaroPDF

ClaroPDF is a free reading app that can read the text on a PDF back to you.

  • Download the ClaroPDF app from Google Play or the Apple Store.
  • Open the ClaroPDF app, go to the three bar menu on the top of the screen and select Open.
  • Look for a PDF file stored on your phone, Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.

Navigate the text:

Use the tools on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen to navigate between the different pages, search for a word or phrase and zoom in and out.  You might find that some documents are easier to read and navigate when your phone is on landscape mode.

Text-to-speech:

  • Open a PDF on the ClaroPDF app (see above).
  • Tap the text to select a sentence and click Play to start reading from that point.
  • From the top menu, select Settings to change the voice and language. The voices and language options available to you depend on your device.

Note: ClaroPDF only works with PDFs that have Optical Character Recognition (OCR). If your document was created as a picture or a scan of text, it might not be OCR and you need to convert it first. You can use SensusAccess to convert an image PDF into an accessible OCR PDF.

Text readers built in to your device

Even if you don’t download any apps your phone or tablet comes with accessibility features that read the text on your screen.

iPad and iPhones

  • Go to Settings
  • Select: Accessibility>Spoken content
  • Turn on Speak Selection and Speak Screen.

Instructions on how to read the text are shown when you turn on these settings. You can also turn Highlight Content on, so the text is highlighted as it is read to you.

Android

Android phones have different accessibility features including text-to speech.

TalkBack is the Google screen reader and it is included on most android devices. See how to  Get started on Android with TalkBack.

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