A couple of months ago, I got an email from Bill Wernz, author of Minnesota Legal Ethics. He had heard from a reader who had stumbled upon a tool in his PDF reader that allowed him to listen to Minnesota Legal Ethics being read. Bill asked me about this tool and I did some investigating.
I suspected this was an accessibility feature in a version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. I'm using Adobe Acrobat Standard. With a little online search, I discovered that it was called the "Read Out Loud" tool. Google showed me where it was located and I gave it a try, testing it on Minnesota Legal Ethics. I was impressed, not only at how well it reads but at the fact that such a feature is standard in Acrobat. When had this happened?
I learned at the 2023 ABA TECHSHOW that Adobe rolls out upgrades twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. Was this a recently-added feature?
A YouTube video from the University of Alabama Office of Disability Services demonstrates Read Out Loud in November 2013, almost a decade ago. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETOohmYui3Q] What off-the-grid cabin have I been hanging out in that I had never heard of this tool?
Rather than berate myself for not knowing, I have to remind myself that any complex software available is loaded with features, many of which we will never use. And software is continually updated, so it's impossible to keep track of all the changes. I'm just glad Bill and his reader brought this to my attention.
While working on this article, I also checked out Google Chrome's extension "Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Reader." I found it to read a bit more smoothly than Adobe Acrobat's Read Out Loud. Along with PDF documents, it will read websites. It has more choices for reading voices than Adobe. Further, Google's Read Aloud will read in other languages, although it read Minnesota Legal Ethics in a mix of French and English-with-a-French-accent when I chose French as the reading language.
If you'd like to use Read Out Loud in Adobe Acrobat or Read Aloud in Google Chrome, below is a quick guide on how to use both.
Do you have a favorite read out loud tool that you use? If so, please share!
Adobe Acrobat Standard - Read Out Loud
The following instructions are for Adobe Acrobat Standard, but they are likely to be similar for other versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: To see the images below more clearly, right click an image and select "Open image in new tab."
- Open your document in Adobe Acrobat.
- Go to View menu in upper left and select Read Out Loud again.
- Select either "Read This Page Only" or "Read To End of Document" to begin having the computer read the document out loud.
In order to set reading preferences for Adobe Acrobat, like voice and speed, navigate to the Edit menu and select Preferences at the bottom of the drop-down menu.