Sunday, May 13, 2007

RSS To Speech

Google gadgetA new Google gadget downloads RSS feeds from any website, reads them using text-to-speech and shows the feeds on screen. After installation the program will use the computer's default voice, although there are many high quality voices across multiple languages that can be used with the gadget (they must be SAPI 5 compatible).
I have to say that because it is wrapped up in so much proprietary software, I have not been able to try this, but it has the potential to be useful from an accessibility point of view. If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know how it works. In the meantime, I'll stick with Odiogo, for all it's faults.

Update: I received an email from the Odiogo support team. Impressive, it's good to know they are listening. "If there are areas we can improve our system, please don’t hesitate to let us know." My response to this was:

The main difficulties I have with Odiogo are:
  • The American accent of the voice, which is great for a North American audience, but tends to be off-putting for European listeners. The solution to this could be to allow subscribers a choice of synthesized voices.
  • Occasional difficulties with mispronunciation of technical words. It's hard to see how to get around this one, but since this blog is technical in nature, the specialized jargon is important to the audience, and mispronunciation in technical spheres quickly destroys confidence the content. Hopefully this issue will improve as the sophistication and technical vocabulary of the voices increases.
In the meantime, try Odiogo for yourself and see what you think.

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