There are a variety of ways to learn to read better depending on your main problem area. Some people read much slower than others, some have trouble understanding what they read, while others have trouble remembering what they read. Some people have trouble in all three areas, depending on what they are reading. There are a number of ways to help people with each of these common reading problems.

Below I cover each of these solutions, you will notice there is a sub-heading for each. 

Reading Speed

So how does your reading speed compare to others? Do you read faster or slower than most people? Really? Do you know? Try the little one page reading speed test below.
Click here to try a quick one page reading speed test online (

Reading is of course important to do well in most post secondary programs. Reading speed and the ability to understand and remember what you read is more important is some programs than others.  Some courses involve more hands on learning with less emphasis on reading or writing. Some programs break learning material into PowerPoint presentations and hand outs,  while others expect the student to read the textbook and breakdown the information into study notes themselves.  

Courses that expect students to be able to read the textbook, break down the information into it key points and remember the books content for tests and assignments are of course very difficult for someone who has trouble reading quickly or breaking down and remembering the information. The good news is that there are many tools available to help. Many are free or fairly inexpensive.

There are also speed reading apps to help you read faster, for example
Spritz on

Text to Speech

One tool is called Text to Speech software will read any text aloud from a document on a computer. The document can be a Microsoft Word file, a PDF file, an email or even text displayed on a website. Today there are a large variety very human sounding voices available, some voices are included when you purchase text to speech software and others can be added if you want a larger variety of voices to listen to when using your reading software. See the list of suppliers for where to purchase text to speech software and additional voices. Popular Text to Speech Programs include: Kurzweil 3000, Word Q, Natural Reader, Text Aloud, and Kurzweil 3000 Color.

Here is a short 1-minute video from youtube about Text to Speech Software called Word Q

Here is a short 4 Minute Video about a Text to Speech program called Kurzweil 3000 (Color), Many public schools, colleges, and universities have used this program for over 30 years. While it is one of the more costly programs, about $1500, it does work very well and includes special very accurate scanning software. The company, Kurzweil Education also offer less expensive versions of their program. 

Click here to visit my youtube channel for more videos about similar products

To be able to truly appreciate the new computer voices you might want to hear the old ones.

Here is a sample of the 3 voices that come with Windows 8 

New Human Sounding Voices 

A company called Acapela has a new computerized voice that is very human sounding.

Click here to hear a sample of their new voice called Sharon

Click here to hear a sample of their Hip Hop voice Saul

Click here to hear a sample of their Southern US voice Micah (Pronounced Michael)

Click here to listen to a sample of other Acapela voices (They sell for about $35 each)

Click here to listen to samples of voices by Ivona

Click here to listen to samples of voices by Nuance

Click here to listen to samples of voices by AT&T

Text to Speech Programs

Text to Speech programs read text aloud from emials, documents, PDF files, ebooks, and the internet, using new human sounding computerized voices. Some text to speech software is free, some have a free trial that expires after a certain amount of time, and some cost under $100, or under $500, and some cost over $1000. Click on each of the following links to find out more about the following software programs.

Balabolka (Completely free)

Adobe Acrobat Reader (Free Version and you can purchase for more features)

Kurzweil 3000 (free 30 day trial and over $500 to buy)

Text Aloud (20 day free trial and well under $100 to buy)

Word Q (Has a free trial and under $500 to buy)

Natural Reader (Has a free version with a pop up that keeps reminding you to buy to get more features and priced under $100 to buy)

Premier to Go (Free trial for first 20 times you start the program and well under $500 to buy)

Everyone Asks, "How do you get the book in your computer?"

Of course in order for a computer or other device to read a document or book aloud the document or book must somehow be copied to the computer or device (iPad, iPod, Tablet, Phone) There are two ways to do this:

One way is to get a copy of your book from the publisher as a PDF file that you can copy into your computer so that one of the text to speech program above can read it aloud to you. The phone number to contact the publisher of your textbook is normally located near the copyright symbol and year the book was published on one of the first few pages of your textbook. On publishers websites they normally have a section called "Permissions" where they explain how to get a copy of your book as a file you can copy to your computer, however many publishers will only give these files to educational institutions who take on the responsibility of promising not to share these files with unauthorized people. College students can discuss this with their Disability Resource Facilitator (DRF in Nova Scotia) or Librarian. (Other provinces / states may have a different title for the person responsible for disability supports at their educational institution) Some publishers may request proof that you have a disability, for example, a copy of a psychological educational assessment, or a letter from your doctor. 

The other way to get your book as a computer file is to either scan it yourself with a scanner at home or pay a scanning service to do it for you. In Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Jennifer Keeping Accessibility Center at Cape Breton University (Click Here to go to their website) can scan textbooks for a small fee that can often be covered by a grant for supports from Post Secondary Disability Services.

(Click here to go to their website)

If you decide to scan your books on your own at home you will need a computer of course and a scanner. You will also need special OCR software. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition this is the process of converting text into a form that text to speech software can read aloud using a computerized voice (Speech Syntheses). For text to speech software to be able to read text aloud it must be able to interpret text as a series of letters, words, and sentences. An easy way to check to see if text on your computer will be able to be read by text to speech software is to simply hold down your left mouse button and drag your mouse arrow over the text. If you are able to highlight individual letters, words, and sentences chances are your computer will be able to read the text aloud using text to speech software. Sometimes the software that comes with a scanner is not capable of doing OCR (also called Scan as Text on some scanning software menus), instead it only scans each page as an image, which if fine if you just want to photocopy each page, but not if you want the computer to read the page aloud. While many scanners do come with OCR software the accuracy of the conversion of the text from an image to actual letters and numbers may be quite low compared to more expensive OCR software. 

Scanning (OCR) Software

Here are a few links to Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Software that does a very good good of scanning text from a book to a file on a computer that can then be read aloud by a computer that has text to speech software. 

Abbyy Fine Reader Professional (Also sold at Staples,

Adobe Acrobat Pro Student Edition (Also sold at Staples,

OmniPage Standard (Also sold at Staples,

Kurzweil 3000 (Also sold by Frontier Computing, Aroga, and Microscience, see the Where to Buy Menu above)


Reading Machines

Reading Machines are specialized scanners that do not require a computer, you simply place the reading material on the top of the machine and press a button. The machine quickly scans the page and starts reading it out loud using a computerized voice, today many of these voices sound more like a person than a robot. The voice and reading speed can be changed or adjusted using other buttons on the machine. Some even have a hard drive where you can store the scanned material in case you need to have it read aloud again. These machines normally have braille on the keys so people who are blind can use them but they are also good for anyone with a print related disability like a learning disability. 

Here is a good video from youtube about the Pearl Compact Reading Machine with Open Book Software.

Here is a link to the Pearl Scanner and Open Book software to read what is scanned aloud, it scans pages as you turn them and can scan 20 pages a minute so its a high speed scanner as it reads aloud.
Click here to learn more about the Pearl and Open Book Bundle

Here is a link to a different supplier in Ontario who also sells the Pearl Scanner and Open Book Software, I assume both would have similar prices. 

Here is a another good video from youtube about the clearReader+

Here is a link to information about the ClearReader+
Click here for more information about the ClearReader+

There are many other similar products, click the link below to watch videos about similar products
Click here to watch other videos about similar products on my youtube channel

Handheld Scanners

Over the years I have had trouble finding a handheld scanner that works well. I have read mixed reviews about handheld scanners and have not tried this one yet, but it does look interesting is fairly inexpensive. The Iriscan book 3 from Microscience Centre in Ontario is something you may want to try, if it doesn't meet your needs you can always return it. 
Click here for more information about a similar product the Iriscan Book 3

Here is the same product from, but they sell a number of different versions, the more expensive ones have more features for example they connect wirelessly to computers and other devices like phones and tablets.
Click here for more information

Dyslexia Glasses - Special Tinted Glasses for People with Dyslexia

Click here to see a Fox News Story about Dyslexia Tintied Glasses and Links and videos about Dyslexia Glasses