Perceptions of people with aphasia about supporting reading with text-to-speech technology: A convergent mixed methods study
INTRODUCTION: Text-to-speech (TTS) technology is a possible reading support for people with aphasia; however, adoption for functional reading remains rare, and people with aphasia may have limited knowledge about TTS. Given this situation coupled with inherent communication challenges associated with aphasia, the purpose of this convergent mixed methods study was to explore the perceptions of participants about desired features, benefits, and drawbacks of TTS technology after having engaged in one-on-one education and guided practice activities. METHODS: Nineteen adults with chronic aphasia completed a single education and guided practice session followed by close-ended questions and participation in a semi-structured interview to explain preferences, concerns, beliefs, and opinions about potential TTS technology benefits and drawbacks. Three participants had previously used TTS technology for functional reading; all others had some prior exposure but did not use a system for functional purposes. RESULTS: Seventeen of 19 participants expressed TTS technology interest after education and guided practice activities. Participants endorsed selection of a preferred voice, control of speech output rate, and highlighting as priority features. Frequently endorsed benefits were improved comprehension and increased reading independence; some participants believed they would succeed in reading a greater variety of materials, communicate more with others, participate in more reading activities, and/or read faster. The greatest concern was mastering device operation; other concerns related to understanding the voice output, needing another person's help for system use, and matching the speech output rate to a preferred reading rate. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, most participants had positive perceptions about possible benefits afforded by TTS technology. Practitioners need to provide opportunities for people with aphasia to learn about and explore TTS systems to determine whether adoption is desired.