What is WebXam Text-to-Speech?
WebXam provides online testing for tens of thousands of students every year. Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) may require assistance that WebXam must accommodate. A common IEP accommodation is that a student may have a reader available while taking the test. In these situations, a proctor reads the test material to the student. The WebXam TTS solution can help provide assistance to students with the “A Reader is Required” accommodation. Text-to-Speech, or TTS for short, uses computer software to convert text into audible speech. The WebXam TTS solution was designed to be a simple and intuitive solution for students with an IEP that allows test questions to be read aloud to them.
How does the WebXam TTS system work?
The WebXam TTS system relies on new speech synthesis technology (technical specification) that is being built into some modern browsers (see Supported Browsers below). This new technology allows web applications to interact directly with a speech synthesis engine to translate web-page text into a synthesized human voice that students can listen to through speakers or headphones.
TTS System Requirements
- Apple Safari 7.0+
- Google Chrome 38+
- Firefox v49+ (released on September 20th, 2016)
- Edge v38.14393+ (released on August 20th, 2016)
*Google Chrome is more thoroughly tested at this time and is the recommended browser.
- Computer with support for audio output using headphones
- Student accommodations are not automatically assigned to students who have been uploaded by the school district. Accommodations need to be assigned manually after the student account is created.
- Only students with the “A reader is required” accommodation properly assigned to their account and using a supported browser will see the TTS options.
- The “A reader is required” accommodation must be set before test activation or the assigned test will not receive the TTS features. School districts are responsible for properly assigning student accommodations. Tests taken with incorrect settings will not be allowed to retest.
- Students tested with an unsupported browser or incorrect accommodation will not be able to retest in the same academic year.
Using WebXam TTS
When a student with an IEP has the “A Reader is Required” accommodation set in WebXam, the student’s tests can be read allowed to them via TTS. The TTS feature is only available when using one of the supported browsers. TTS-enabled tests will show a clickable speaker icon to the top right of the question in the test. By clicking on the speaker icon, the question and answers will be audibly spoken by the browser software. As each section of the test item is spoken, the background of the text will be highlighted in a high contrast yellow to indicate that it is being spoken. Clicking the speaker icon will cause the entire test item to be read in series. Students also have the option of clicking on any individual text to cause the clicked-on section to be read aloud individually. Test proctors are tasked with maintaining the security of the WebXam tests; students are required to use headphones while using TTS for testing security.
Please test your computers for audio support before giving a test using the TTS feature. If audio cannot be heard, check the computer’s volume setting to make sure that the audio is working correctly. If you are not able to get the computer to output any audio, you may need to troubleshoot the hardware before using TTS. WebXam TTS uses new browser technology that browser manufacturers are actively adding support for. As browser manufacturers update their products, it is possible that software bugs may break compatibility with WebXam’s TTS implementation. WebXam staff will strive to fix any bugs which occur, but functionality cannot be guaranteed without placing limits on the browsers supported by WebXam. It is the responsibility of the school district to have proctors on hand to provide reading assistance if issues arise.
Some helpful tips:
- Check that the headphones are plugged into the audio out port and not a mic input port.
- Make sure the computer is not set to mute.
- Make sure the computer volume is not turned all the way down.
- The test proctor should be available to assist in case any technical issues arise. The proctor may read the test items if any issues occur or the students need extra assistance.
- Students can choose to not use the audio if they do not want it.
- The TTS system may not read all words with the correct pronunciation; the correct pronunciation is dependent on the TTS engine built into the browser. Highly technical terms might be read differently than a student expects.