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Re: screen reader that supports Chinese?

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 12:37:13 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


Below is a follow-up on my message archived at 
based on responses that I received off-list. 
(Since people responded off list, I don't know if 
they want their names to be mentioned.)

* Someone mentioned a thread archived at 
(October-November 2005) and commented on the 
state of the screen readers mentioned there.
Yang-guang by China Braille Press and the Yong-de 
screen-reader by Mr. Wang Yong-de (a blind man 
himself) seem to be popular in China. Comment: 
"they could speak Chinese well, but speak English in letters."

The Tsing-hua shuang-xing by Prof. Mao Yuhang 
(Prof. Mao created the very first software f/t 
blind in China) was developed in the 1980 and seems to be no longer available.

There was no further information on the other 
screen readers listed in that thread, namely:
- Blue Sky Voice Control System and Wireless 
Screen Reader by Harbin E-time Digital Technology Development Co. Ltd
- Bei-ji-guang by Dr. Zhu Xiao-yan (also from 
Tsinghua University and she got involved in this 
area by a request from a Japanese person)
- Fu-yin by Mr. Zhu Shuang-liu (a blind man 
working at Tongji University in Shanghai)

* Another respondent pointed out that any screen 
reader with Unicode support should conceivably be 
able to read Chinese with the proper TTS.
The web page about the JAWS 10 Public Beta 
contains a link to a web page about the RealSpeak 
Solo Direct Voices for Freedom Scientific 
These voices include Mandarin and Cantonese.

* On Linux Firefox + Orca + eSpeak with a Chinese 
voice ought to work.  Orca & eSpeak are both 
designed to handle Unicode characters (actually 
lists languages for which eSpeak does text to 
speech, and this list includes Mandarin (Pinyin 
and Chinese characters; 'There is no attempt yet 
at recognising different pronunciations of 
Chinese characters in context, or of recognising 
sequences of characters as "words".'). Someone 
also verified that irefox3 + Orca + eSpeak for 
Chinese works on Solaris JDS build 99.
There is also an eSpeak-Chinese page at 
If someone can experiment with getting it working 
with gnome-speech, then it should work with Orca; 
the Orca project would be very interested in the details.

Nobody commented on the list of products in my original message.

The background of my original request was my WCAG 
2.0 CR implementation, which is a bilingual site 
(English - Dutch) with learning materials in 
Mandarin Chinese. It should now be possible to 
demonstrate that web pages with Chinese characters can be spoken.
Many thanks to everyone who responded!

Best regards,

Christophe Strobbe

At 13:41 30/09/2008, Christophe Strobbe wrote:
>Does anyone know people who have experience with 
>screen readers that support Chinese?
>So far, I have found fairly little information in languages that I can read.
>Below is what I found about screen readers that support Chinese:
>* R. W. P. Luk; D. S. Yeung; Q. Lu; H. L. Leung; 
>S. Y. Li; F. Leung: "ASAB: a Chinese screen 
>reader" Software: Practice and Experience, Vol. 
>33, Issue no. 3. 
>This paper describes the design and development 
>of a computer interface for blind and 
>visually-impaired users, who are native speakers 
>of Cantonese (i.e. a Chinese dialect). Apart 
>from enabling the interface to (1) produce 
>Chinese voice output, (2) convert Chinese 
>characters to Braille codes, (3) facilitate 
>Chinese Braille input, and (4) operate in a 
>Microsoft Chinese Windows environment, the 
>significant aspects of this paper include the 
>following: (1) the description of an integrated 
>architecture, which can be used for other 
>languages; (2) a general bilingual Braille input 
>mechanism; (3) a sentence-based input method 
>that can be used for contracted-Braille-to-text 
>conversion with an error rate of about 6%, 
>operating at about 700 characters/second using a 
>Pentium II 300 MHz PC; (4) a code-mixed 
>synthesis module for general bilingual and 
>multilingual applications; (5) the potential to 
>directly adopt the system for use with other 
>ideographic languages (like Japanese and 
>Korean), as well as agglutinating languages like 
>Finnish and Turkish, which have no space between 
>words. Copyright  2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
>I did not find other information about ASAB; the 
>authors seem to have moved on to other topics after this paper.
>* KanHan Technologies Limited: Chinese JAWS for 
>Windows: <http://www.kanhan.com/webpage/eng/products_chi_jaws.php>
>KanHan's Enhanced JAWS version allows access in 
>Chinese. With the integration of KanHan's text 
>to speech and Chinese Braille translation 
>technology, and support from the Hong Kong 
>Society for the Blind, now the visually impaired 
>shall have no barrier to access Chinese contents 
>on PCs and surf on Chinese websites in Hong Kong, PRC and Taiwan.
>With JAWS, the visually impaired can easily 
>listen to, and touch and read the dynamic 
>contents on the screen. Accessing software 
>applications in various formats, such as Excel, 
>Word, PowerPoint and Acrobat for desktop 
>publication, presentation and reporting, 
>navigate on the Internet world in English, 
>Cantonese or Putonghua. Also, users can 
>communicate in emails in both English and Chinese to various communities.
>(The sales link leads to a page that is only 
>available in Traditional Chinese characters.)
>* On an NVDA mailing list, people mentioned other Chinese screen readers
>   <http://www.freelists.org/archives/nvda/05-2007/msg00417.html>:
>  - Guide Mouse: 
> <<http://www.batol.net/gm/>http://www.batol.net/gm/> 
> (info in Traditional Chinese characters)
>  - Big Eyes: 
> <http://cefb.org.tw/~young/cefbb/forum.php> 
> (info in Traditional Chinese characters)
>  - Window-light (free for home use): 
> <http://www.retina.org.hk/hkrpsc.htm> (info in Traditional Chinese characters)
>* Yui-Liang Chen & Yung-Yu Ho: 'The status of 
>using "Big Eye" Chinese screen reader on 
>"Wretch" blog in Taiwan' ACM International 
>Conference Proceeding Series; Vol. 225 - 
>Proceedings of the 2007 international 
>cross-disciplinary conference on Web 
>accessibility (W4A) Banff, Canada, Pages: 134 - 
>135: <http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1243447>
>* According to Wikipedia, Microsoft Lili is the 
>Chinese screen reader included with Chinese localizations of Windows Vista:
>  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Lili>
>I wonder if there is confusion here between 
>screen readers and voices for text-to-speech.
>It strikes me that KanHan Chinese JAWS for 
>Windows is the only software in my list that 
>explicitly addresses Mandarin and Simplified Chinese Characters.
>If anyone could point me to more detailed 
>information, I would really appreciate that.
>It would also help discussion about 
>accessibility support in WCAG 2.0, because 
>language support affects what technologies can 
>be considered "accessibility supported" (see the 
>phrase "interoperability with users' assistive 
>technology in the human language(s) of the 
>content" in the definition at 

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
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Received on Wednesday, 15 October 2008 10:38:05 UTC

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