Narrator is a basic Microsoft accessibility option that uses Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology to read what is displayed on the screen. It allows people with little or no sight to use computers that have Windows operating systems.
I had to do two things before Narrator could start vocalizing to me. First, I had to set up the speech properties for my computer, and then I had to configure Narrator itself. I found the Speech Properties folder in the Control Panel (because I still use Windows XP). In the text-to-speech tab, there were three voices to choose from-I picked "Microsoft Sam", and set him to speak at a normal rate of speed.
Narrator was in the Accessories menu, under the Accessibility category. Once you open the Narrator, a dialog box lets you select from several different TTS functions that include, among others:
- Announcing events on the screen, where the narrator will read aloud new windows, menus, or shortcuts when they are displayed
- Reading typed characters (including every keystroke you make, like shifts, spaces, backspaces, and deletes).
I found Narrator very annoying. It would probably be helpful to someone who couldn't see well, but the voice was way too slow-paced for my typing rate; it tried to keep up, but it couldn't, even when I put it on the fastest speed. When I tried to end the program, it asked if I was sure I wanted to exit; I didn't have to think twice before I clicked "Yes".