SpeakOUT: a Tool for People With Modest Print ImpairmentsBy Evans, D.G.; Kurniawan, S.H.; Blenkhorn, P.; Assistive Technology - Shaping the Future: AAATE 2003 Conference Proceedings, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 441-445
Publication Date: 2003
Paper discusses the operation and architecture of SpeakOUT, which is a software tool designed to assist people with reading difficulties. SpeakOUT utilizes screen reader technology to provide access to text that cannot be selected by a mouse. When the user wishes to have a word on the computer screen spoken, he or she simply hovers the mouse pointer over the word, which is then spoken by a text-to-speech synthesizer. This contrasts with conventional screen reader technology, which requires the word to be selected by the user before it is spoken. When the user wishes to hear a phrase or block of text spoken aloud, he or she selects the text by dragging the mouse pointer over the phrase while depressing the center button of a three-button mouse. The program may also be set to echo characters as they are typed, and to speak a word when it has been completed. Two separate evaluations were conducted with two versions of SpeakOUT. The major differences between the two versions were some alterations to the icons used in the floating menu bar that provide a means for users to select and configure the program. In terms of functionality, the two versions were identical. Both evaluations were conducted with users who used English as their second language. The first evaluation was conducted with two participants who had used computers for ten and fourteen years. The second was conducted with 5 participants whose average computer use was 12.3 years. The tests were carried out using a laptop computer with a 1-Gigahertz Pentium processor running on the Windows XP operating system. The participants were encouraged to use the application without any set task, but they were encouraged to browse a set of local web pages and to read and write documents using Microsoft Word. The users were asked to think aloud and comment on the features of SpeakOUT. In general, the users found that the application was very useful. Everyone indicated that SpeakOUT would be useful to help him or her pronounce words correctly. One of the problems the participants faced was the use of horizontal and vertical bars to mark a block of text. The speech generated by the program was incorrect at times, and the text-to-speech synthesizers demonstrated varying degrees of naturalness. Implications for further evaluations are discussed.
Assistive Products Discussed: SPEAKOUT
Published by: IOS Press (Website:http://www.iospress.nl)
Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) (Web Site: http://www.aaate.net )