Computer readers

Computer readers for use with non-interactive PDF exam papers

by Abi James, NTC.

This fact sheet details some of the computer reader packages that can be used for reading aloud GCSE, ‘A’ level or Functional Skills exams. The packages listed here have been tested with example papers and in general found to be compatible but this is not an exhaustive list.

Adobe Read Out Loud

This is the built-in text-to-speech tool within Adobe Reader, which is free for Windows. It can be turned on through the View Menu and is controlled through keyboard shortcuts. Although it is built-in, it is not recommended for use with an exam paper as it is designed to continually read a document. It is possible to click on any paragraph to hear it.

Download from Adobe web.

ClaroRead SE.

This is the cut-down version of the reading and writing support tool ClaroRead, containing just the text-to-speech tools. It can read aloud text with colour highlighting in Word, web pages and PDF files.  It works well with PDF exam papers. The candidates place the curser at the point they wish to hear the text from and then press play. ClaroRead SE contains 2 high quality voices and is a cost-effective tool.

N.B. If your centre already has ClaroRead but requires the SE (Special Edition, produced for a B.D.A. International Conference) version for use in exams, contact Claro Software for a licence.

Texthelp Read & Write Gold for Schools.

This is an extensive reading and writing support toolbar. This contains a tool called PDF Aloud which opens PDF files and allows them to be read aloud with dual colour highlighting. The software comes with a number of high-quality voices. The Schools Site Licence contains a Teachers Toolkit which enables teachers to limit which functions a candidate has access to (for example removing access to dictionaries and spell checkers).

Available from Texthelp.


  Adobe Read Out Loud ClaroRead SE Read & Write Gold
Control method Keys Floating toolbar Floating toolbar
Voices included No Yes Yes
Highlighting in Pdf files No Yes Yes
Cost No Yes Yes


© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee and Abi James. July 2015.
Copies of this page may be made providing it is unchanged and the source is acknowledged.

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