ClaroRead, the text-to-speech application that helps dyslexics and people with other literacy difficulties access their Mac, has been updated for 2008 and Leopard.

ClaroRead for Mac 08 is available for both single users and colleges, and now includes three new voices, predictive word analysis, a text-to-speech dictionary and a more comprehensive checking system for spelling, grammar and homophones.

You can use it to read back text from many different apps, though most of the new features only work with MS Word 2004 or 2008 for Mac.

Speaking text on your Mac

Your Mac's OS has similar features to ClaroRead already embedded into it. Check out the Universal Access icon in System Preferences to see the options.

Already for free in the OS, you can highlight text in applications and have the OS read it back to you by commanding Edit > Speech > Start Speaking.

ClaroRead does offer further features, however. You can simply hover the cursor over text to trigger speech and you can also pause speech, change the voice and record speech as an audio file. You get keyboard shortcuts for controlling the software, too.

But, although you can use ClaroRead for speaking text from many apps, including Safari, the homophone, spellcheck, font manipulation, dictionary and spelling features only activate with MS Word 2004 or 2008.

Clearer text onscreen

ClaroView is also included, which will overlay your Desktop with colour at a certain part of the light spectrum to make text clearer if you have impaired vision.

Although no one within the team suffers from accessibility problems, as far as we could tell, we found the package worked as advertised.

It would be nice, though, if ClaroRead worked as well with MS Word 2004 or 2008 as it does with other Mac apps.