VoiceOver is a full function screen reader somewhat similar to using something like JAWS. It reads menus and the contents of programs as soon as you access them. It was designed for people who are blind so it may be too feature rich for people just wanting to read text in a document. The hotkey for starting VoiceOver for all Mac version since OS 10.5 is Command+F5.
VoiceOver will not read in Microsoft Office for Mac or in Adobe Acrobat Reader for Mac. Comparable programs that VoiceOver will work in are Pages (an Apple word processor) and Preview (the default PDF viewer for Mac). More information can be found at
Mac OS X also has a Text to Speech Option which will read selected text when the user presses a user defined Shortcut Key. The text to speech option also works in the Apple Calculator to make it self voicing. It is a simpler option than VoiceOver to use for reading e-texts for people with learning disabilities.
Now each time you type this key combination, your Mac will read aloud any text you have selected. To stop the speech, type the same key combination again.
The default hotkey for TTS is Option+Escape. Directions for configuration of Text to Speech were found at http://www.apple.com/pro/tips/text_speech.html?sr=hotnews.
Books2Burn is a free Text-To-Speech MP3 creation program for the Mac OS X Leopard. It can use the high quality Alex voice to create MP3's that you can load onto your iPod. This program has not been tested by our office yet but our understanding is that it will only open text files. You may need to cut and paste the text you want for the MP3 in the user interface.
For more details about Apple and Mac Accessibility visit: