TikTok Adds Text-To-Speech Feature to Improve Accessibility
@lucyedwardsblindNEW FEATURE ALERT! This is how you use Text-to-speech #learnontiktok #texttospeech #newfeaturetiktok #newfeature #blind
TikTok has added a text-to-speech feature that will read out words users put on their videos. The popular social media app included the new option as an accessibility feature for those with impaired vision, a growing trend for platforms integrating voice technology.
As can be seen in the video up top, the feature is pretty straightforward. A user types the text into a video as normal, then selects it taps on the text-to-speech option, and a default AI voice will read it out to anyone watching the video. Text-to-voice is the second accessibility feature TikTok has added in recent weeks. The platform also offers a way to protect people with photosensitive epilepsy from accidentally triggering an episode from videos they come across. It also adds an element of voice technology on top of the voice commands available through the Alexa Skill TikTok launched in August. The skill, built on Alexa for Apps, enables voice commands, hands-free recording, and voice search for viewers. The skill is limited to mobile platforms because Echo smart displays can’t stream TikTok videos. The text-to-speech ability appears to have been created in-house by TikTok, a testament to how widespread basic voice AI has become.
TikTok’s interest in making the app more accessible using voice tech makes sense for business and comes as voice AI’s ability to help people with disabilities is becoming ever clearer. Using the tech for the benefit of the blind and vision-impaired is proliferating in particular. The resulting features include the Show and Tell feature for Echo smart displays and the Lookout feature for Android devices, both of which can identify labels on food containers. Google Maps also now offers voice cues for Google Maps to guide people with limited sight. Accessibility tools with voice tech encompass more than just those with limited eyesight. They include Google’s Look to Speak gaze-based mobile device control, the Alexa Care Hub that helps people keep track of their loved ones, and the partnership between Israeli voice tech startup Voiceitt and Alexa, letting people with atypical and impaired speech use the voice assistant. There are plenty more likely to emerge, possibly for TikTok as the threatened banning of the app by the U.S. government seems to have faded.