Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel

For some people, text-to-speech conversion is a really important tool for accessibility purposes. We recently had a client that needed to be able to hear the information that had been entered into her spreadsheet, and for her, we set up a tool called “Speak Cells” which allows Excel to read aloud the content of a given cell for those that are sight-impaired, or just to proofread numbers by sounding out the data. For her, it provided a great deal of value, because she was unable to see the data well enough to verify that it was correct – and with the “Speak Cells” feature, she could check and double check by column or row within the spreadsheet to ensure her customers’ data was correct.

To enable the feature, you need to add the “Speak Cells” icons to your Quick Access Toolbar, which is at the top left of your Excel window.

Here’s how you do that:

  1. Select the down arrow on the right side of the Quick Access Toolbar (upper left of the screen), and choose “More Commands”:

    Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel image Speak Cells 1 300x141Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel

  2. When the Commands menu appears, select “All Commands”:

    Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel image Speak Cells 2 278x300Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel

  3. Scroll through the list until you see the Speak Cells commands – you will add several of them – Speak Cells, Speak Cells –Stop Speaking Cells, Speak Cells by Column, Speak Cells by Row, and Speak Cells on Enter. When you have added them all, click OK.

    Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel image Speak Cells 3 300x294Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel

  4. From there, you can select the tools within the spreadsheet and start listening to cells being read aloud. Only one tool can be selected at a time – they act more like a switch than a button

    Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel image Speak Cells 4 300x76Adding Speak Cells for Accessibility in Excel

  5. From there, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy having Excel read your data aloud to you. There are a lot of scenarios in which this is desirable – certainly for those that are sight-impaired, but also for decreasing eyestrain in the average worker, as well as being able to look at a hard copy and verify that the data in the hard copy aligns with what is in your spreadsheet.

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