Posted in Dyslexia, English as an Additional Language (EAL), ICT, Literacy and English, Visual impairment

Recording speech – various products and ideas for their use

This is a longer post than usual, so please indulge me!

Devices onto which a message can be recorded have myriad uses, and are often inexpensive.  Below I’m going to take you through some of the devices available, although there are many more, and give some ideas for what you could use them for.  If you have any questions about what would be best to purchase, please feel free to contact me!

Talking Tins

These were originally developed so that the visually impaired could tell the different tins in their cupboard apart.  The yellow version allows you to record for 10 seconds, the red version 40 seconds.  The red version also lets you “lock” the device so that messages cannot be accidentally recorded over.  As there’s not a huge difference in price, I’d recommend the red version.  You can also buy various mounts and straps to make these devices more flexible.

Easi-Speak and Micro-Speak 

Both of these products are made to look like microphones, they both allow you to download your recordings to a computer through USB, and they both have rechargeable batteries. They are also both available in a range of colours – bright or more grown-up looking.  The Easi-Speak is a nicer shape, but the Micro-Speak offers better storage (512Mb vs 128Mb) and better sound quality.

The PENPal

The PENPal

This is a nifty little device that works alongside stickers that use RFID technology.  Basically, you can assign a sound file to work with a sticker, which you can then stick to anything – a book, a wall display – even yourself!  This product is a favourite of the EAL Service and below are two videos showing how it can be used with children and young people who are learning English, one showing it working with the range of pre-recorded books and charts that can be purchased, one using the stickers.

Recordable Pegs

Recordable pegs

Record up to 10 seconds of audio on these pegs, which feature a magnetic back.

Talking Tiles

Talking Tiles

Some of you may be familiar with the Big Point – this product is similar, but improved.  You can record 40 seconds worth of audio and it features a line-in, so you can record higher-quality audio directly from a CD player or a computer.  The clear plastic top can be removed so that you can put in text, a photograph or a symbol.

Talking Photo Albums

Talking photo album

Available in a range of sizes, these albums allow you to record a message on each page.

Step-by-Step and Multi-Memo

This devices allow you to create a series of messages that can be cycled through.  The Step-by-Step comes in a variety of sizes, and the button colour can be changed.  The Multi-Memo has a longer recording time (6 vs 2 minutes) but is obviously less accessible for learners with physical impairments.

Magic Cloud

Magic CloudThis is a little bit of a cheat, as you don’t record audio onto the object, but it’s such a lovely thing I think it’s worth adding in here.  Another product that works with stickers that use RFID technology – this time, you associate the sticker with a picture, video or audio file on your computer and stick it to an object.  When a learner drops that object onto the “magic cloud”, the file is activated.  Here’s a wee video showing it in use:

These products can be purchased from Inclusive, Talking Products or Mantra Lingua through ORACLE.

Ideas for using these products

Here are just a few ideas for these products – I’d love to hear about which devices you’re using, and in what imaginative ways!

  • Adding a talking element to a wall display – in English or another language
  • Home/school communication
  • Giving a learner with little or no speech (through disability or selective mutism) a voice
  • Encouraging reluctant speakers
  • Recording (and evidencing!) the learning of a pupil who finds writing challenging
  • Revising tricky words
  • Creating a more supportive classroom environment for learners who have additional needs, for example autism or visual impairment – although this would benefit all learners!
  • Capturing audio “on the move” e.g. on a school trip
  • Rehearsing scripts or poems
  • Role-play or interviewing activities
  • Getting soundbytes for a podcast

Have a great week, everyone!


Teacher at the Keycomm Resource Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. Love my wee family, my cats, my friends. Passionate about inclusive education, nice red wine and travelling.

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