Tuesday, February 3, 2009

DSpeech: Terrific Treasure for all kinds of Text and Speech Operations

DSpeech gives you free text to speech, text to mp3 and wav conversion, voice recording and speech to text - all from a flash drive!
I was exploring Access Apps, a free downloadable accessibility suite from RCS in Scotland, that runs from a flash drive. I was exploring for Mp3 conversion tools and one of the tools was DSpeech. I will be sharing more on Access Apps on another post, but wanted to specifically share the DSpeech today. You can opt to download it from the link at the top and just use it off a flash drive or your computer if you don't want the full downloaded suite in AccessApps. (More to come on the tools on the AccessApps suite.)
DSpeech can import text files in many formats and read them aloud. There is a box to check that shows tracking so that words are highlighted as they are read. Text can be converted to wav or mp3 files to download and listen on a portable player or they can be heard through the computer.
I used the speech to text tool and found that if I spoke slowly and clearly, I could get most of what I said to print okay. I could then save that as a text file. I found that under options, if I configured the ASR (automatic speech recognition) with the pull-down menu choice, SAPI Developer, I got better results with the computer interpreting my voice. There are recorder buttons on the program also to record messages and read text outloud to create Mp3/wav files as well. The website says you can do conversational things with the text and set up new voices by blending other voices - I haven't explored it that deep yet, but it has great potential. When you choose a voice, you get an avatar at the top that blinks and talks when the text to speech is activated. This will definitely be a draw for students!
I recorded some sound files, used the speech to text, copied an article from Word I had taken off the Internet and turned it into an mp3 file. Everything worked great.

Because DSpeech can run off a jump or flash drive, nothing has to be installed on a computer. A student can carry the jump drive with them and store files on it as well. The interface uses any voices you have on a computer. Mine had the Voiceware VW Paul and VW Kate. I liked them the best. I think I got them when I downloaded a free version of Natural Reader. The voices extended themselves over to the DSpeech which made a much more natural sounding voice so you might want to try downloading the free version of Natural Reader and see.

If you are looking for some great accessibility tools for voice, text and mp3, check out DSpeech. It's a great tool.

All the best to you!



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