Disability Services

iOS Reading Apps

There are some really good low cost reading apps for Apple’s iOS devices. There are also some extraordinarily good built-in reading apps for iOS. Below are some of these apps and directions on how to find or use them.

Speak Selection and Speak Screen Tool

The Speak Selection tool is a simple clipboard reader like TTS on Mac or Natural Reader on PC. It can be used with any text that is highlighted in iOS 5 or later. Speak Screen gives navigation options and reading features for reading an entire document or app page. Speak Screen was introduced in iOS 8.Speak Selection and Speak Screen also have options for adjusting speech rate and for highlighting words as they are spoken.


To enable Speak Selection and Speak Screen

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech
  2. If Speak Selection and Speak Screen are showing as off press the buttons to turn them on

To Use Speak Selection

  • Highlight text on the screen by 1-Finger double tap and hold then drag to make selection
  • From the editing menu that appears press Speak
  • Press Pause to stop reading and Speak again to continue

A helpful YouTube video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGvNLJuxRG8. When using Safari to read it may be helpful to enable the Reader button by the address bar if available.

Speak Selection

With Speak Screen turned on you can read the entire contents of the screen when you swipe down with two fingers. When swiping it is best to start with the two fingers above the screen and go all the way down past the bottom of the screen. After it begins reading a toolbar is visible with a Play and Paus button, buttons to increase and decrease speech rate, and fast forward and rewind buttons. This feature works great in apps like Safari, Mail, and iBooks.


VoiceOver is setup for people with visual impairments but it can also at times be a useful tool for people with learning disabilities. It is not something most people would want to leave on all the time because it changes all the gestures that you use for accessing iOS. It can be toggled on and off when needed. VoiceOver will also read content in the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and iBooks apps.

To enable Toggling of VoiceOver

  1. Go to Settings General > Accessibility
  2. Under Triple-Click tap the Triple-Click Home button
  3. Select VoiceOver

To Read with VoiceOver

VoiceOver reads what is under your finger. If you want it to read specific text you just touch it. If you want it to read continuously you need to do a two finger swipe down. If you want it to read the entire screen from top to bottom do a two finger swipe upward.

Table of Basic Voiceover Gestures:

Action Gesture
Read from Current Position 2-Finger Swipe Down
Read Continuously from Top 2-Finger Swipe Up
Pause and Continue Speech 2-Finger Single Tap
Read Previous or Next Object 1-Finger Swipe Left or Right
Scroll Down 3-Finger Swipe Up
Scroll Up 3-finger Swipe Down
Enter an Object, Button, or Link 1-Finger Double Tap

To set Speech Rate

Note: If you have VoiceOver on while doing this you will need to select the slider and then swipe up or down to adjust the rate.

Voice Dream Reader

Voice Dream Reader is a $15 app that reads text from nearly all types of documents including Word, PDF, RTF, and HTML. It uses high quality voices from Acapelaand the built-in voices available in iOS. Voice Dream strips the text out of documents imported into it. This app works well with DropBox for importing your alt text request files.

The controls for the program are simple. There are Play, Fast Forward, and Rewind buttons at the bottom of the window. You can also control Voice Dream by using the Play Pause Buttons on iPhone headphones. The play pause controls in the App Switcher and Lock Screens also work. You can start reading a document and have it continue reading when the app is minimized.

There is a good video demonstrating the Voice Dream App on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGNYsGVAL4g.

You can purchase the Voice Dream Reader app on the iTunes App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voice-dream-reader-text-to/id496177674?mt=8.

To Import a File from DropBox into Voice Dream

You need to have DropBox installed on your iOS device before you can use Voice Dream to import files from DropBox. Dropbox must also be enabled under the Settings options in Voice Dream. Settings is accessed from the Voice Dream Home screen.

  1. Open Voice Dream
  2. Press the Add button which looks like a Plus Sign at the top left of the home screen of the app
  3. Tap DropBox
  4. Tap the download button next to the file you wish to open and Voice Dream will import it from Dropbox
  5. Tap the Done button when it is finished downloading
  6. Tap the file you just added
  7. Now you can play the document

Natural Reader HD Pro

Natural Reader has an app for iOS that is decent. In the past we have had some students that had difficulties using the Free version on iOS and it would frequently crash. The Newer HD Pro version for $10 seems to work really well. You can open PDF and Word documents created to fill alt text requests. You an brin in files from Dropbox easily. You can download two high quality voices or use the built-in voices for iOS. There are other high quality voices available to purchase.

You can Get Natural Reader from the App Store by visiting:


Dropbox is a cloud storage service that allows you to share files across devices and platforms very easily. Dropbox is one of the ways that Disability Services can issue you your alt text files. The app for Dropbox needs to be installed on iOS before you can access files from Dropbox in other apps.

When you are approved for alt text through Disability Services you will receive two e-mails about Dropbox. The first is an invitation to sign up for a Dropbox account. For creating an account with Dropbox we usually recommend using your @vikes.csuohio.edu e-mail. The second is an invitation to a shared folder where we will place your folder. If you have not received these please check your Spam filter in either your campus e-mail account or the account you have your campus e-mail forwarded to.

You can download Dropbox from the App Store at: