How Do You Read So Much?

I read a lot of books and web content. Most of this reading takes place on my commute, which, at various times in my life, has involved trains, buses, cars, and lengthy walks. These settings are not all conducive to reading, so it has helped me a lot to have the option of turning anything I’m reading into an “audiobook” – in other words, letting my smartphone speed-read the text to me.

In iOS:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech.
  2. Tap Add New Language.
  3. Tap the language and dialect you want. …
  4. Tap the More Info button for the language.
  5. Choose either Default or Enhanced Quality. …
  6. Move the Speech Rate slider to adjust the rate of speech the voice uses.
  7. Select the Speak Screen option.

Now try going into the Kindle or iBooks app and open a book you’d like to read. (You should probably have headphones in for this part.) Place two fingers at the top of the screen and swipe down. The voice you have selected will start reading the text on the screen to you.

You will be able to adjust the speech rate directly from the window which appears. I find that the brain gets better at processing the synthesized voice over time, so after practicing a bit, I can listen to books at the highest rate of speed if I wish to. This max speed corresponds to about 500 words per minute. I usually don’t wish to listen at quite this speed, but if I need to get through something quickly, that option is always there.

If you find the voice unbearable for some reason, I recommend slowing down. You can gradually speed up as your brain adjusts. Despite all the reading I do, I’m not a particularly fast reader! The Speak Screen voice can read about as fast as I can read to myself. If you feel the need to practice, maybe start by treating yourself to Worm via Screen Reader – that’s how I made my way through it.

The Speak Screen function can be finicky. I find that I have to leave the screen on, or the app will stop reading to me when it finishes whatever page it was on when I turned the screen off.

A lot of websites are not well-designed from an accessibility perspective. Many news sites will start by reading the names of every headline and subcategory before finally getting to the text of the article.

There are document types that the Screen Reader simply can’t read, such as PDFs. You will have to read such documents in the ancient manner, using your frail human eyes.

I am not an Android user, but the Android OS appears to have its own Speak Screen functionality, detailed here


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