I launched my first website way back at the dawn of the millennium. It features public domain literature. From the start, it cried out for text-to-speech capability, but I could find no practical solution. I could have recorded my reading of each page in an audio file, but that would have been way too time consuming and storage-intensive (at the time, disk space was dear).
Every few years it would occur to me to research the issue again, but I still could not find a practical solution. The solutions that became available over the years were expensive and/or impractical and/or sounded awful.
Until a couple of days ago. I found the ResponsiveVoice text-to-speech plugin. It is offered in a free version, and features many languages and voices. I immediately foresaw a couple of barriers. First, it would probably sound awful. Second – the instructions say to use “Shortcodes to place Listen button anywhere on the post or page”. Ah, that’s not gonna work since I would have to edit roughly 2000 pages to add the button to each one individually. Nowhere did it say the button would work in a sidebar widget – it seemed the button had to be on the page itself.
I tried it in a sidebar widget anyway, and … It works! And it sounds – well, kinda robotic, but not unpleasantly so. I wouldn’t say the sound is great, but it is OK. ResponsiveVoice is easily the best, most practical WP text-to-speech solution that I’ve found. It feels great to finally be able to offer byGosh.com visitors a “Listen to This Page” option. Here’s an example … Down the Rabbit-Hole.
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