Literary Assistance Resources

Text to Speech

This section contains information about TTS requirements. TTS reads aloud text that appears on the screen for students who may have reading impairments. The TDS includes embedded TTS that can be turned on for students after the student test settings in TOMS have been assigned. For students to test with TTS, a supported voice pack will need to be installed on their device before testing begins. (Supported voice packs are described in the next subsection.) Students testing with TTS should also have a supported headset or headphones.

Supported Voice Packs

Using TTS requires at least one voice pack to be installed on testing devices.

A number of voice packs are available for testing devices, and all voice packs are researched and tested for compatibility with the secure browsers. However, not all voice packs that come preinstalled with operating systems are approved for use with online testing.

What follows is a list of the voice packs supported for students testing with TTS. A student who needs to use a voice pack not listed in this table should test it with a practice test to ensure there are no issues before its use with an operational assessment. Practice tests are available on the Practice and Training Test Site.

The student using TTS for the practice test must log on using a supported secure browser. Secure browsers are available for download on the Secure Browser website. The student can also verify that TTS works on the testing device by logging on to a practice test session using a supported secure browser or Chrome, Firefox, or Edge web browser, and then selecting a test for which TTS is available.

  • Windows built-in voice packs
  • Mac built-in voice packs
  • iOS built-in voice packs
  • Chromebook built-in voice packs
  • Heather Infovox iVox HQ (macOS only)
  • Rosa Infovox iVox HQ (macOS only)

Overview of TTS

Using TTS

After configuration of TTS, the student or teacher may test the functionality on a practice test administered through a supported secure browser before using it for operational testing. Students or teachers can also verify that TTS works on testing devices by logging on to a practice test session and selecting a test for which TTS is available.

How the Secure Browser Selects Voice Packs

This subsection describes how the secure browsers select which voice pack to use.

Voice Pack Selection on Desktop Versions of Secure Browsers

When a student who is using TTS starts a test, the secure browser looks for voice packs on the student’s device. Upon recognizing an approved voice pack, the secure browser uses the one with the highest priority.

If any of the approved voice packs has been set as the default voice on the device, then that voice pack will always get the highest priority.

Voice Pack Selection on Mobile Versions of Secure Browsers

The mobile secure browser uses either the device’s native voice pack or a voice pack embedded in the secure browser. Additional voice packs downloaded to a mobile device are not recognized by the mobile secure browser.

Configuring Windows TTS Settings

This subsection explains how to configure Windows for using TTS with the secure browser. The TTS resource is available on Windows versions as listed on the Secure Browsers web page. Windows devices are typically shipped with at least one default voice pack. Many of these default voice packs are recognized by the secure browser.

The instructions in this section to configure Windows TTS settings are for Windows 10. The process is similar for other versions of Windows.

  1. Open the speech recognition resource in the Control Panel by navigating to the Control Panel and then selecting the [Speech Recognition] link (figure 1).

    Screen capture of the Windows Control Panel, with the Speech Recognition icon called out

    Figure 1. Windows Control Panel sample

  2. In the Configure your Speech Recognition experience window, select the [Text to Speech] link (figure 2).

    Screen capture of the Configure your Speech Recognition experience window, with the Text to Speech link called out

    Figure 2. Configure your Speech Recognition experience window

  3. In the Speech Properties interface, select the [Text to Speech] tab to configure default TTS preferences (figure 3).
    1. Voice selection: If multiple voice packs are available, select the default voice.
    2. Select the [Preview Voice ] button to hear a sample of the voice and determine whether the selected voice requires a rate adjustment.
    3. Voice speed: If necessary, adjust the voice speed. Drag the slider to make the voice speak slower or faster. To listen to the rate, select the [Audio Output] button.

    Screen capture of the default text-to-speech preferences in Windows

    Figure 3. Default TTS preferences in Windows

  4. Once all options have been selected, select the [OK ] button to save the settings and close the Speech Properties window.

Configuring macOS TTS Settings

This section explains how to configure MacOS for using TTS with the secure browser. The TTS feature is available on macOS versions as listed in the System Requirements document. Using table 1 as a reference, install voice packs from the indicated packages—these are the supported voice packs.

Table 1. Voice Packs Recognized by Secure Browsers—macOS

Vendor Voice Pack Language
Mac (preinstalled) Agnes English
Mac (preinstalled) Alex English
Mac (preinstalled) Bruce English
Mac (preinstalled) Callie English
Mac (preinstalled) David English
Mac (preinstalled) Fred English
Mac (preinstalled) Jill English
Mac (preinstalled) Junior English
Mac (preinstalled) Kathy English
Mac (preinstalled) Princess English
Mac (preinstalled) Ralph English
Mac (preinstalled) Samantha English
Mac (preinstalled) Tom Spanish
Mac (preinstalled) Vicki English
Mac (preinstalled) Victoria English
Mac (preinstalled) Diego Spanish
Mac (preinstalled) Javier Spanish
Mac (preinstalled) Marta Spanish
Mac (preinstalled) Monica Spanish
Mac (preinstalled) Paulina Spanish
Infovox (commercial) Heather Infovox iVox HQ English
Infovox (commercial) Rosa Infovox iVox HQ Spanish

MacOS devices are typically shipped with at least one default voice pack. Many of these default voice packs are recognized by the secure browser.

The instructions in this section to configure MacOS for using TTS are for OS X 10.9. The process is similar for other versions of MacOS.

  1. Choose the Apple menu ➔ System Preferences (figure 4).

    Screen capture of the Apple drop-down menu in OS X, with the System Preferences option selected. Additional options include About this Mac, Software Update, App Store, and Dock.

    Figure 4. Select macOS System Preferences

  2. Select the [Dictation & Speech] icon (indicated in figure 5).

    OS X System Preferences with a circle around Dictation and Speech

    Figure 5. macOS System Preferences

  3. In the Text to Speech section of the Dictation & Speech configuration window (figure 6), set the default TTS preferences.
    1. System Voice: If multiple voice packs are available, select the default voice.
    2. Select the [Play] button to hear a sample of the voice and determine whether the selected voice requires a rate adjustment.
    3. Speaking Rate: If necessary, adjust the voice speed. Drag the slider to make the voice speak slower (left) or faster (right). To listen to the rate, select [Play].
    4. When configuration is complete, select the red X or bubble in the upper-left corner to save the settings, and then close the Dictation & Speech window.

    Screen capture of the OS X Dictation & Speech configuration window, with the [Text to Speech] tab displayed. The window reads: System Voice: Alex Speaking Rate: Slow, Normal, Fast [Play] button [Check box] Announce when alerts are displayed [Set Alert Options] button [Check box] Speak selected text when the key is pressed [Change Key] button To have clock announce the time: [Open Date & Time Preferences] button To change VoiceOver settings: [Open Accessibility Preferences] button

    Figure 6. MacOS Dictation & Speech options

Disabling the TTS Keyboard Shortcut

A feature in macOS 10.12 and later allows users to have any text on the screen read aloud by selecting the text and pressing a preset key or set of keys on the keyboard. By default, this feature is disabled and must remain disabled so as not to compromise test security. Take the following steps to toggle this feature.

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.
  2. Select the [Accessibility] button on the System Preferences screen, which is indicated in figure 7.

    Max OS X System Preferences screen with the Accessibility button indicated

    Figure 7. MacOS System Preferences screen.

  3. Select the [Speech] button.
  4. To enable this feature, check the Speak selected text when the key is pressed box. To disable, unselect the checkbox.

Configuring Linux TTS Settings

This section explains how to install voice packs on the supported Linux distributions. Using table 2 and table 3 as references, install voice packs from the indicated packages—these are the supported voice packs.

Table 2. Packages That Include Supported Voice Packs on Linux Distributions—Ubuntu

Distribution/Voice Pack Available in Package
kal_diphone (Kevin American English male) festvox-kallpc16k, festvox-kallpc8k
ked_diphone (Kurt American English male) festvox-kdlpc16k, festvox-kdlpc8k
el_diphone (Castilian Spanish male) festvox-ellpc11k

Table 3. Packages That Include Supported Voice Packs on Linux Distributions—Fedora

Distribution/Voice Pack Available in Package
cmu_us_awb_arctic_hts (Scottish English male) festvox-awb-arctic-hts
cmu_us_bdl_arctic_hts (American English male) festvox-bdl-arctic-hts
cmu_us_jmk_arctic_hts (Canadian English male) festvox-jmk-arctic-hts
kal_diphone (Kevin American English male) festvox-kal-diphone
ked_diphone (Kurt American English male) festvox-ked-diphone
  1. Install Festival for TTS:
    • Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install festival
    • Fedora: yum install festival
  2. Install Sound eXchange (SoX) for TTS:
    • Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install sox
    • Fedora: yum install sox

Speech-to-Text

STT technology transcribes a student’s spoken words into text for responses to test questions in the TDS. Students with the appropriate accommodations may use STT assistive technology while taking tests. It is recommended that students use the embedded STT resources in the TDS. This embedded resource can be tracked by the CAASPP or ELPAC programs when gathering data about students’ resource use. If a student needs to use a third-party STT software, refer to the list in table 4 for the software that has been tested with the TDS. The TDS currently supports several non-embedded STT applications.

A student using STT technology will need to use a headset while testing. Any wired headset with a 3.5 mm or USB connection should be compatible.

After configuration of a STT application, the student may test that application on a practice test administered through a supported secure browser prior to using it for operational testing.

Table 4 lists STT applications that have been tested with the TDS. Note that currently, there is no embedded STT feature within the TDS, and STT is not available for Linux, Android, or Chrome OS.

Table 4. Third-party STT Applications

STT Technology Supported Versions OS Requirements Additional Details
Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • 15 Professional
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • This resource may need to be used in a separate setting.
  • This software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
  • Because the TDS cannot confirm appropriate configurations are in use during testing, the TA or TE will need to ensure the student does not use features outside of the STT functionality, such as the ability to record a transcription while testing.
iOS Dictation
  • iOS 11.4
  • iOS 12.2
  • iOS 12.3
  • iOS 12.4
  • iOS 13.2
  • iOS 11.4
  • iOS 12.2
  • iOS 12.3
  • iOS 12.4
  • iOS 13.2
  • This built-in software cannot be used with the secure browser.
  • The student must dictate into a secondary iPad set in Airplane Mode. The TA or TE enters the student’s response into the testing device.
  • Refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
Mac Enhanced Dictation
  • N/A
  • Mac 10.11–10.14
  • This built-in software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
Read&Write—Windows
  • 12.0.45
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • Students have access to Screenshot Reader, PDF Reader, Audio Maker, a dictionary, Screen Masking, translators, voice note, and Scan features while testing.
  • Exam Mode must be enabled before the student begins testing; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information. (This mode is not available with Read&Write for Mac.)
Windows Speech Recognition
  • 8.0
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • This built-in software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
  • Because the TDS cannot confirm appropriate configurations are in use during testing, the TA or TE will need to ensure the student does not use features outside of the STT functionality, such as the ability to open and switch between applications, view the desktop, perform searches, and access Cortana while testing.
WordQ+SpeakQ
  • 5.1.20
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • This software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
  • Exam Mode must be enabled before the student begins testing.
  • This application also includes a text prediction feature that cannot be disabled. Therefore, a student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan must include the use of the word prediction resource to be used along with the STT functionality to use this application.
  • This application cannot read some mathematics characters and table content.

Configuration Guidelines for STT Applications

Some applications listed in table 4 require additional configuration to prepare for use during online testing. Necessary configurations are described in this subsection. Some applications send data to the cloud for processing by default. Where noted, this feature should be disabled to ensure the security of test data.

After an application is configured, CAI strongly recommends testing that application on a practice test administered through the secure browser prior to using it for operational testing.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 Home or Professional Individual for Windows

Take the following steps to configure Dragon NaturallySpeaking for student testing:

  1. Open the Options dialog box presented in figure 8 by accessing the Tools drop-down list on the DragonBar and then selecting the Options item.

    The Commands tab in the Options dialog box

    Figure 8. Dragon [Commands] tab in the Options dialog box

  2. On the [Commands] tab, displayed in figure 8, uncheck the following boxes:
    • Enable E-Mail and Calendar commands
    • Enable Cut shortcut commands
    • Enable launching from the Start menu
    • Enable launching from the desktop
  3. On the [Miscellaneous] tab (figure 9), uncheck the Use the Dictation Box for unsupported applications box.

    The Miscellaneous tab in the Options dialog box

    Figure 9. Dragon [Miscellaneous] tab in the Options dialog box

  4. Open the Administrative Settings dialog box presented in figure 10 by accessing the Tools drop-down list on the DragonBar and then selecting the Administrative Settings item.

    The Scheduled Tasks tab in the Administrative Settings dialog box

    Figure 10. Dragon [Scheduled Tasks] tab in the Administrative Settings dialog box

  5. On the [Scheduled Tasks] tab, uncheck the Enable scheduled Data Collection box.
Setting Up User Profiles for Students

Dragon Naturally Speaking requires each student to use a specific user profile. Create user profiles and ensure that Dragon Naturally Speaking is set to the proper profile for each student prior to testing. When creating a profile, the student’s age range, language, and accent can be selected, and the audio input devices can be set. The student will then read aloud prompts that Dragon Naturally Speaking uses to learn the student’s voice.

After creating one or more profiles, the [Profiles] button can be selected in the Dragon toolbar. Selecting [Open User Profile…] switches between user profiles (refer to figure 11). For more information about creating user profiles, refer to the Dragon Naturally Speaking—Windows website.

Dragon Naturally Speaking—User Profiles

Figure 11. Dragon Naturally Speaking—Open User Profiles

iOS Dictation

Because of the way iPads are secured for high-stakes assessments, there is currently no third-party application that can provide STT. However, students who need STT can dictate into the built-in dictation application on a secondary iPad and a TA or TE can then enter the student’s response, verbatim, into the testing device.

The secondary iPad must be a 5th or 6th Generation iPad or iPad Pro running at least iOS 9. It must be placed in Airplane Mode so that no secure test data is transmitted to the cloud for processing. Also, it must be opted out of Apple’s Diagnostic and Usage program so that no secure test data is stored on the device for analysis.

What follows are the key settings for using the iOS Dictation resource:

  • Dictation—Enable through an app’s settings using GeneralKeyboard Settings
  • Airplane Mode—Enable through Settings Airplane Mode
  • Diagnostics & Usage opt-out—Disable through SettingsPrivacyAnalytics

Prior to the day of testing, the secondary iPad must be connected to the internet once to download the offline models that allow speech to be transcribed offline. This is done automatically once Dictation is enabled and the device is connected to the internet. No manual download is necessary.

After the device is connected to the internet once, CAI recommends users test offline dictation by enabling Airplane Mode and dictating into the Notes app or another similar app on the iPad. If it works, testing may proceed. If it does not work, disable Airplane Mode and reconnect the iPad to the internet to finish downloading the offline STT models.

On testing day, enable Airplane Mode on the secondary iPad and allow the student to dictate responses into it. A TA or TE must then enter the responses, verbatim, into the student’s testing device.

After testing is completed, be sure to delete any secure test data on the secondary iPad.

Mac Enhanced Dictation

Mac workstations that will be used for dictation should be opted out of Apple’s Diagnostic and Usage program so that no secure test data is stored on the device for analysis. Macs can be opted out of this program by disabling Analytics using Apple menu ➔ System PreferencesSecurity & PrivacyAnalytics and unchecking the Share iCloud Analytics box.

When Enhanced Dictation is enabled on a testing device, a language and keyboard shortcut must also be enabled through the device’s keyboard settings. Take the following steps to enable keyboard dictation in versions of macOS prior to 10.15:

  1. Select Apple menu ➔ System Preferences.
  2. Select the [Keyboard] icon.
  3. Select the [Dictation] tab.
  4. If asked about improving Siri and Dictation, select the [Not Now] button to decline to share audio recordings.
  5. Select a language to use from the Language drop-down list.

Take the following steps to enable Mac Enhanced Dictation in versions of the macOS after version 10.15:

  1. Select Apple menu ➔ System Preferences.
  2. Select the [Accessibility] icon.
  3. Select the [Voice Control] button on the left navigation bar.
  4. Select [Enable Voice Control].

Once Enhanced Dictation is enabled, the device must be connected to the internet to download the offline models that allow speech to be transcribed without sending it to the cloud for processing.

Read&Write for Windows

Read&Write has an Exam mode that can be used to turn off features for a single student on the particular testing device. When Exam mode is enabled, the student will have access to only the selected features on the toolbar and certain speech settings, including voice selection, speed, pitch, and Speak As I Type (the full settings menu will not be accessible).

Take these steps to use Exam mode; refer also to the Using Exam Mode in Read&Write for Windows web page.

  1. Run Read&Write as the student who is testing.
  2. Select the [Settings] button.
  3. Select the [Show more settings] link.
  4. Type adminsettings in the Find a Setting field.
  5. Enter and confirm a password to grant administrator access on this computer; select the [OK] button. (This username and password is associated with the administrative account for the user’s Read&Write subscription.)
  6. Select the [Select your features] tab and then select which feature(s) to enable on the student’s toolbar.
  7. Select the Use Exam Mode now toggle to start Exam mode.
  8. Close the Read&Write menu to start the exam.

Windows Speech Recognition

Prior to testing day, the Windows built-in Speech Recognition application must be set up on each testing device that will be used by students who require STT. The application can be set up by selecting Speech Recognition in the Windows Control Panel. During setup, Speech Recognition Voice Training must be completed by the student for optimal performance.

On the day of testing, the student should launch the secure browser (with permissive mode enabled), enter the test, and then launch the Windows Speech Recognition software. This will allow the secure browser to recognize the software and permit students to proceed through the test.

WordQ+SpeakQ

To minimize security risks, WordQ+SpeakQ includes an Exam Mode feature, which can be enabled through the application’s settings. Note the following about Exam mode:

  • It must be set for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 12 hours.
  • Exam Mode may not eliminate all security risks.
  • Once Exam Mode has been set, it cannot be disabled until the configured time has run out.

Take the following steps to turn on Exam Mode and set the timer:

  1. Open WordQ+Speak Q.
  2. Select the [Options] icon
  3. Select [Exam Mode]; the EXAM MODE pop-up window appears.
  4. Set the exam time limit in the Exam Mode time limit field at the bottom of the window.
  5. Check or uncheck the Word usage examples and Single words added by the user, including topic words boxes to enable or restrict these features.

Word Prediction

Word prediction applications, which use predictive text technology, suggest words as a student types a response to a test item. Currently, the TDS does not offer an embedded word prediction feature but supports several third-party tools that use predictive text technology.

Word prediction is compatible with supported desktop operating system versions of macOS and Windows only.

Table 5 lists word prediction applications that have been tested with the TDS.

Table 5. Third-party Word Prediction Applications

Predictive Text Technology Supported Versions OS Requirements Additional Details
Co:Writer Universal
  • 1.0.0
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • Mac 10.11–10.14
  • Because the TDS cannot confirm appropriate configurations are in use during testing, the TA or TE will need to ensure the student does not use features outside of the word prediction functionality.
  • This software requires users to enter numbers from an on-screen keypad.
  • The MacOS version cannot be opened or minimized with keyboard commands.
Read&Write for Windows and Mac
  • 7.1
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • Mac 10.11–10.14
  • Students have access to Screenshot Reader, PDF Reader, Audio Maker, a dictionary, Screen Masking, translators, voice note, and scan features while testing.
  • Because the TDS cannot confirm appropriate configurations are in use during testing, the TA or TE will need to ensure the student does not use features outside of the word prediction functionality.
  • This software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
  • The Windows version also includes STT functionality that the student may use if the student has the proper accommodation assigned.
WordQ 5
  • 5.0.40
  • Windows 8.0
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 R2
  • This software requires additional setup before use in the TDS; refer to the configuration guidelines for additional information.
  • Exam mode must be enabled before the student begins testing.

Configuration Guidelines for Word Prediction Applications

Read&Write for Windows and Mac

Read&Write has an Exam mode that can be used to turn off features for a single student on the particular testing device. When Exam mode is enabled, the student will have access to only the selected features on the toolbar. For students requiring predictive text, Predictive Text should be enabled. Read & Write for Windows also includes text-to-speech and speech-to-text (talk and type) features, which should be enabled for students with the proper accommodation settings only.

Take these steps to use Exam mode; refer also to the Using Exam Mode in Read&Write for Windows web page.

  1. Run Read&Write as the student who is testing.
  2. Select the [Settings] button.
  3. Select the [Show more settings] link.
  4. Type adminsettings in the Find a Setting field.
  5. Enter and confirm a password to grant administrator access on this computer; select the [OK] button. (This username and password is associated with the administrative account for the user’s Read&Write subscription.)
  6. Select the [Select your features] tab and then select which feature(s) to enable on the student’s toolbar.
  7. Select the Use Exam Mode now toggle to start Exam mode.
  8. Close the Read&Write menu to start the exam.

WordQ 5

To minimize security risks, WordQ 5 includes an Exam Mode feature, which can be enabled through the application’s settings. Note the following about Exam mode:

  • It must be set for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 12 hours.
  • Exam Mode may not eliminate all security risks.
  • Once Exam Mode has been set, it cannot be disabled until the configured time has run out or the device has been rebooted.

Take the following steps to turn on Exam Mode and set the timer:

  1. Open WordQ 5.
  2. Select the [Options] icon.
  3. Select [Exam Mode]; the EXAM MODE pop-up window appears.
  4. Set the exam time limit in the Exam Mode time limit field at the bottom of the window.
  5. Check or uncheck the Word usage examples and Single words added by the user, including topic words boxes to enable or restrict these features.