Interface to speech synthesis
Speech Dispatcher provides a high-level interface to Text-to-Speech systems and makes it possible to combine different applications with different speech synthesizers. Both Free Software and proprietary synthesizers are supported. Speech Dispatcher also manages synchronization and serialization of speech messages so that they are spoken in an orderly manner.
Accessibility application reader for Emacs
Emacs is unique in that it is a very extensive system, including a very powerful text editor, email client, calendar program, shell and modules for many other applications (typesetting system, remote access, development tools), which can bring the advantages of a fully textual environment and excellent keyboard navigation onto the modern desktop.
Since Emacs provides in many ways a unified interface for applications, the accessibility provided by speechd-el is high and work can be very efficient for the visually impaired.
We have developed high-quality Free Software voices for the Czech language – two male, one female and one child male. We are currently using the Festival speech synthesis engine, but the voices could be adapted for other engines as well. Voices for other languages can be developed in the same way as well.
Available voices (samples in different speed, saying our moto "Technika některým lidem život zpříjemňuje, jiným umožňuje", which means "For some people technology makes life convenient, for others makes it possible"):
Sound Icons is a package of sounds that can complement speech synthesis in a very convenient way. Sounds can be embedded in the speech to represent for example punctuation characters in sentences, or they can be used to represent different situations while working with an application, instead of lengthy descriptive speech messages.
Examples of sound icons:
- at-sign Sound Icon Sample
- Left round bracket Sound Icon Sample and Right round bracket Sound Icon Sample
- Prompt Sound Icon Sample (user is asked to type in some text)
Notes typesetting using singing speech synthesis
We have combined the Festival synthesizer with the Lilypond notes typesettings system and the Emacs editor so that blind and visually impaired users can typeset music including voice.
An important part of the music typesetting work is checking the result. This is easy for sighted users who can simply check the output on their screens or printed on the paper. But visually impaired users cannot do that. Even if the accessibility tools were able to describe the positions of notes and lyrics on the screen, checking it in such a way would be very tedious. That means that the visually impaired users have to use other tools.
While it is difficult for the visually impaired users to work with visually represented information, it is usually easy for them to work with information represented in the form of sound. And this is how the music typesetting tools can be customized. LilyPond already solves part of the problem – it offers MIDI output of the music. Listening to it the visually impaired user can check correctness of the music part. But what was still missing was a way to check that the lyrics was input correctly as well. This is what Singing Computer solves.