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RE: Emoticons

From: David Norris <kg9ae@geocities.com>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 21:38:40 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <001101bdccac$ceafa260$164378cc@illusionary.dyn.ml.org>
You know, I never really thought of that much.  I suppose that it could be a
problem with most speech synthesizers.  It is hard to say if that is a flaw
with the synthesizer, the specs, or the writer.  The little emoticons are
almost a language of their own.  It would be a shame to stop using them
because of perceived accessibility problems.  They often translate to
something that words cannot describe in an adequately short space.  :o could
never be totally captured by words.  Not to mention that almost anyone could
understand ;) without translation.  CSS2 could help tremendously.
Controlling the prosody would be a useful thing.  But, I am not sure that
something wouldn't be lost if we gave up our emoticons completely.
Emotional states for the voice would be a useful addition to CSS.  I mean,
do most people know which volume, pitch, stress, richness values would make
a voice sound happy or sad?  A high quality speech synthesizer, using the
MBROLA algorithm for instance, could easily duplicate emotional inflections
in its speech.  Some of the rougher voices, like Peter, wouldn't benefit

Here is something that surprised me the first time I heard it.  My speech
synthesizer speaks "Winking Smiley Face" when it encounters ;) and it speaks
"Smiley Face" when it encounters :)  There is other ASCII 'art' that it
speaks.  I have noticed these in common practice, though.  I am using MS IE
5.0 b1 on Windows 98 with MS Voice 4.0 installed.  I am using the 'Mike'
True Voice speech engine that comes with Voice 4.0.  I modified one of the
example programs to read using the Accessibility hooks in Windows 98.  It
isn't as sophisticated as the commercial screen readers, but, it works much
better for my needs.  I dislike all of the other screen readers that I have
tried.  I can, at least, fix mine when it does something stupid ;)

I will add that I am not visually impaired or blind.  So, I have not had to
rely on the screen reader.  I have many friends that do rely on them,
though.  However, I have found that the screen reader helps me stay focused.
I often get distracted while reading.  I read about 1000 words per minute,
but, I rarely make it through more than a few minutes before drifting off on
a tangent.  The screen reader and headphones seem to keep me focused on what
I am doing.  It only speaks clearly to about 200 WPM, so I trade a little
speed for endurance.  I am sure it helps comprehension a bit, also.

,David Norris

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Received on Friday, 21 August 1998 22:38:39 UTC

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