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Re: text to speech software

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 11:45:54 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "jonathan chetwynd" <jay@peepo.com>
Cc: "w3c" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

At my first, the previous teleconference (4?) someone described the
difficulty that CAST was having finding means of determining and labeling
the reading level of text that was to be used in text to speech software.
CAST has apparently learned that merely provide speech synthezation isn't
all that is needed to make the web accessible to all visually impaired
folks with normal hearing. CAST has discovered that various cognition
levels in visually impaired folks will render text-to-speech pretty useless
if the text being spoken is signigicantly above the cognition level of the

If this is a problem for the visually impaired folks, who are presumed to
have more or less "normal" cognition, how much greater then is the problem
when we are talking about people with different or impaired cognition? 

Back with an early Apple IIe machine, I went out on a limb and bought a
speech synthesizer for a visually impaired student with a very low IQ. Not
only did my girl hate the synthesized speech (worse than she hated the
talking books she got from the state), but it didn't enable her to use
"normal" level materials for instruction either. Text to speech doesn't
work for everyone we could hope it would, but I shudder to think of the
consequences if it hadn't been developed. The speech synthesizer we had
would only read text files from a disk, not from the Internet (although
there really wasn't much K-12 content on the Internet back then except on
mailing lists). 


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Monday, 12 July 1999 17:11:24 UTC

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