[Athen] Listening to PDF files on iPad and iPhone

Travis Roth travis at travisroth.com
Wed Mar 2 11:52:18 PST 2011

If the PDF is accessible, has text in it, then the iPhone/iPod can open the
file as an attachment from an email. (May also work with a sharing app like
DropBox, but I am not sure.)
And VoiceOver can read the PDF once it is open. (The iPhone has native
support for PDFs.)
Again, the PDF has to be accessible enough to be readable, so an image-only
PDF won't work.
May be worth a try, no-cost option...

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Sean J Keegan
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 12:38 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] Listening to PDF files on iPad and iPhone

> We have a student who would like to listen to PDF > files on his iPhone
and his iPad. What are your preferred > apps for making this possible?

If the student wants to just listen to the content of the PDF document, the
easiest method would be to extract the text and then convert the text
information to audio. If working on a Mac, then commercial products like
Ghostreader can perform the conversion and dump the file into iTunes for
synchronization with the device. Claro Read for Mac and Kurzweil 3000 for
Mac can also convert the text information into a iTunes compatible file (but
these are a bit more expensive products).

I am sure this could also be automated by using the Automator function on a
Mac. I just have never gotten around to trying out this option.

Note - Ghostreader is very similar to TextAloud.

If the student wants to listen AND view the PDF at the same time...well,
that gets a bit tricky. I have not seen any current apps that will perform
text-to-speech on the PDF document directly. There is the text-to-speech app
called Speak It! for the iPad and iPhone, which allows the user to
copy/paste the document text into the Speak It! app, which will then read
and highlight the text to the user.

The other option would be to convert the PDF document to a DAISY file and
then use a DAISY reader such as VOD (Voice of DAISY) or InDAISY Reader to
read/listen to the document. I have tried the VOD Light version and it
works well, but the InDAISY Reader app looks very promising.

I have put together a Web page on a few apps that I have been following and
testing in the academic environment. I am working on the DAISY apps right
now, so there is no information just yet on those (will be updated by next
week). Here is the site and I will send out a note when I update the

Take care,

Sean Keegan, M.S.
Associate Director, Assistive Technology Office of Accessible Education -
Stanford University http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae

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