The website Mac OS X Automation has a great tutorial on how to use some of the new text to ePub automator actions that are available in Mac OS X Lion, and they have even put together a few automator workflows to make the process easier. I was inspired by the information they had on their website to see if I could create my own ePub document using the information they provided, but I added a twist: I added a recording of the text at the beginning of each chapter and this recording was created using the excellent Alex voice available with the Text to Speech feature in Mac OS X. The tutorial is now available on YouTube (and it is closed captioned). I think having an audio version could be beneficial for students with learning disabilities by providing the content in another modality. While the iPad and other IOS devices already include a great screen reader in VoiceOver, the voice available on those devices is not as good as Alex is, so this is why I decided it might be a good idea to provide the text to speech recording created on the Mac. Along the way to making this tutorial, I also learned about new automator actions for converting video and audio files into the correct formats for ePub (and iTunes U). To use these actions, select your file(s), right-click on them and choose Services, Encode Selected Video (or Audio) Files. For audio this will result in an .m4a file saved to the same location as the original, and for video the format of the converted file will be .m4v.
Published by Luis Pérez, Ph. D.
Luis Pérez is an inclusive learning consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He has more than a decade of experience working with educators to help them integrate technology in ways that empower all learners. Luis holds a doctorate in special education and a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida, and he is the author of Mobile Learning for All: Supporting Accessibility with the iPad, from Corwin Press. Luis has been honored as an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) in 2009, and as Google in Education Certified Innovator in 2014. He is also a TouchCast and Book Creator Ambassador. Luis currently serves as the Professional Learning Chair of the Inclusive Learning Network of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which recognized him as its 2016 Outstanding Inclusive Educator. His work has appeared in publications such Teaching Exceptional Children, Closing the Gap Solutions, THE Journal, and The Loop Magazine. In addition to his work in educational technology, Luis is an avid photographer whose work has been featured in Better Photography magazine, Business Insider, the New York Times Bits Blog and the Sydney Morning Herald. Luis has presented at national and international conferences such as South by Southwest EDU, ISTE, CSUN, ATIA and Closing the Gap. View all posts by Luis Pérez, Ph. D.