Microsoft Word – Get Your Voice Back

If you suddenly can’t find David or Mark or Zira computer voice to read your word documents to you, here’s the solution!

When I edit my books, I go through 4 edits:

  1. Let Microsoft Word’s Editor help me correct spelling and perhaps grammar. Editor is funkier to use than the previous spell check. But my settings to display reading level and ease are still in force, so that’s good.
  2. Reparagraph. When I write, I don’t always split paragraphs correctly. And often, I want to make my paragraphs shorter so that they’re easier to read. I also find lots of little errors when I do this.
  3. Let Word read the book aloud. More on that below.
  4. Check for words that I commonly misspell. I created a word macro to highlight those words. By this point, I often don’t need to do this edit. However, I usually still do as I often end up reading the story once more and perhaps correct other issues or add a few more gems.

I hadn’t published a book in a few months. When I was editing the latest book, Microsoft’s Read Aloud tool had changed. It no longer used David’s voice. It was now using a female voice which I found to be grating on my ears. I switched to the male voice, and ended up switching back to the female voice. David’s voice is not the greatest. But it was better, IMHO, than either of these. But it was no longer an option.

So, I googled. And people, including microsoft, kept telling me to go to settings and choose David for Narrator voice. Well, that was still set. And Mark and Zira voices were also still there. However, now Read Aloud can’t use those voices. 

I finally found the answer. Not the greatest, but it works.

Choose a menu (ribbon in Microsoft Word), where you want to add Speak. Read Aloud is on the Review menu ribbon, so you might want to add Speak there. I have custom menus for writing books, so I added speak there.

Now, I just click on speak for David to read the text to me and click on it again to make it stop. Actually, it’s not that simple. David will read the selected text or the current word. You can make it function like Read Aloud (Read from here forward until you stop it). Press Ctrl+Shift+End to select from here forward. However, David will keep reading even though the text doesn’t move on the screen. Not helpful!

So, I select one paragraph at a time, by triple-clicking in the paragraph. Then I have David read me just that paragraph. Not the best method. But it works, and usually, I want to make some changes, unless it’s a very short paragraph.

To change narrators (perhaps you don’t like David or perhaps your local language is not US English), click the Windows Start menu, then settings gear, then search for voice or narrator. Once you get to the Narrator settings, choose whichever voice you want. If there aren’t any there, google to figure out how to install them. 

Please note that sometimes the computer reader will autocorrect for you. The error will still be in the text, but you won’t hear it. And sometimes, they really mangle words, especially the ones I’ve made up. However, that can help when perhaps I should change the spelling to something which a human reader might guess at. If that’s important.

Alternate options:

  • Use the Windows Narrator – I found this to be clunkier. Maybe you’ll like it.
  • Read your story outloud to somebody else
  • Have somebody else read the story outloud to you – I tend to not find quite as many errors with this or the previous method as I do by having the computer read to me while I edit.
  • Hire an editor
  • Use an online read such as Natural Readers – I haven’t tried it, it’s just the first one that Google returned.

How to Find an Accessible House to Make Your Home

Whether it’s your first home or your fifth, moving is both exciting and exhausting. Finding an accessible home comes with its own challenges, but it is always worth the extra effort. Here are some ways you can make your experience a smooth one.

Before You Search

In order to lessen the stress of house hunting, first-time homebuyers should complete a few initial steps before they even begin to search for a house. Ensure that your credit report is accurate before applying for a mortgage—a high score can mean lower interest rates. When you find a lender, make sure all your important documents, including pay stubs and tax returns, are organized and ready to be handed over. You’ll also want to determine what you can afford for a home by looking at your budget and factoring in the down payment and other home-related expenses. Lastly, you should find a good real estate agent to make the home buying process go much smoother.

Finding Accessibility

Thankfully, there are more options than ever before when it comes to accessible housing. No matter what you’re looking for—an apartment, a house in town, or even a tiny home—you have options. Your state may have online resources that connect tenants in need of accessible housing with sellers or renters, and many websites have search engines that filter different requirements. If you truly are stuck, talk to a realtor in the town where you hope to move. They will have a better understanding of what is available and be able to help you find a home in your price range.

Amending a Good House into a Great One

Sometimes, the home we fall in love with ends up needing a bit of work to make it perfect. Or, maybe the houses in our price range aren’t quite right, but with a little work, it can be modified. Whatever the case may be, if a home falls slightly short of your needs, you have options to adapt it. Some changes, such as remodeling the bathroom or kitchen, can be pricey, but not all adjustments will impact your household budget. In fact, many small alterations can be easily added without much fuss. It only takes a little reading, the parts and then an afternoon to get the work done. Just be certain that you get estimates for any major repairs or remodels before you make an offer. You’ll need to factor those costs into your total budget, after all.

What to Look for in a City

Even if you adore a certain house or neighborhood, it does not mean that this will be the perfect home. Before you visit a town, look at Google Maps and see how navigable it is. If there isn’t enough information available, try the app AccessMap, which has been designed specifically for those who need disabled-friendly directions. It even shows where sidewalks are the most even and where curbs are lowest. You need to think of non-accessible concerns, too, such as crime rates, hospital availability, and whatever else is relevant to you.

Before You Move In

Before you bring your belongings to your new place, confirm that the home is secure and livable. Even if your house is brand new, ensure that it’s clean enough for your possessions. You also want to be certain that your utilities have been updated to include your new address, and that your mail gets redirected. Of course, one of our biggest priorities is home security, so give yourself assurances by finding a reputable locksmith.

Moving Day Made Easy

Moving day is exhausting. Even when we have researched which movers are best, have things planned out, and made sure the weather will be okay, there are lingering stresses and worries. To make things easier, get plenty of sleep and have snacks premade and ready to eat for you and the moving team to sustain morale. Keep lots of water around, as moving is thirsty work, and be sure you have packed an overnight bag. Even if your boxes are labeled, no one wants to spend the evening of a tiring day searching for kitchen utensils, pajamas, and hygiene products!

Don’t be overwhelmed. Yes, there is quite a lot to do, but you can get it all done with proper planning. This is a thrilling adventure, one that should bring joy, not stress.


Author: Tanya Lee at AbilityVillage.org

Image Courtesy of Pixabay