Is your Acapela voice laughing and crying with NVDA?

Acapela voices use special codes to laugh, cry, cough and so on. These codes are called “Acapela sounds”. the Acapela sounds are usually not found in ordinary text, it may be amusing or useful to write special texts to hear these special effects.

Unfortunately NVDA has few smart rules which interferes with the Acapela sounds making it impossible to hear them, which has been a cause of frustration for many users of the Acapela TTS for NVDA plug-in.

However thanks to some clever and helpful NVDA users from the NVDA mailing list we have now found a solution to the issue.

If you want your Acapela TTS Voices for NVDA to cry, laugh and cough in NVDA you need to edit an NVDA file called “builtin.dic”. Always backup the original “builtin.dic” file before editing it, so that you can always reverse your changes.

builtin.dic is found in the installation folder of NVDA and contains few regular expression rules to handle text in a smart way. One of them is named “Break words that have numbers at the end” and it is the one interfering with the Acapela.

To tell NVDA not to use this rule you need to add a # character at the beginning of the next line, that should then look like the following:

# ((?:(?=\D)\w)+)(\d+)    \1 \2    1    1

The # character means that you are “commenting out” this rule and thus it would not be applied. Restart NVDA for this to make effect.

After that you will be able to use the Acapela Sounds. here below is a list of codes. Please note that these do not work with all voices, but only with the most recent voices of Acapela:

  • #AARGH01#
  • #AARGH02#
  • #AARGH03#
  • #BREATH01#
  • #BREATH02#
  • #BREATH03#
  • #CLICK01#
  • #CLICK02#
  • #COUGH01#
  • #COUGH02#
  • #CRY01#
  • #CRY02#
  • #CRY03#
  • #LAUGH01#
  • #LAUGH02#
  • #LAUGH03#
  • #MMM01#
  • #MMM02#
  • #MMM03#
  • #SLEEP01#
  • #SLEEP02#
  • #SNEEZE01#
  • #SNEEZE02#
  • #SWALLOW01#
  • #SWALLOW02#
  • #THROAT01#
  • #THROAT02#
  • #THROAT03#
  • #WHISTLE01#
  • #WHISTLE02#

A complete explanation of Acapela’s sounds and exclamation, including a link to a huge list with all sounds and exclamations is found here.

 

A tale of Ella

We have received a post from our friend Michael and we happily share it with you all. Enjoy it!


My name is Michael Bayus. I am totally blind and have been from birth. I am a Concert Organist and Church Musician working in the Sarasota area of Florida in the USA.

I use NVDA as my Screen Reader, and, of late my voice of choice is Ella. I don’t remember when I first heard Ella, it was probably around the beginning of 2013 when she was first released. I “fell in love” with her voice the first time I heard her, and I wished that there was a way I could have her reading for me.

The Infovox software was not possible for me, as I am a Church Musician on a small income, and Infovox was not something that I could afford. When the Addon for NVDA came out Ella was more within my reach.

I didn’t want a “Childs” voice, however, but I do like the voice I hear to be youthful. I surmised that If there was a way I could lower the pitch and frequency of the voice, I could make her sound “more grown up”. And, because I know something about how a Human voice works, I new that in addition to changing pitch and frequency, I would have to simulate in some way, the spreading of formants, and vocal tract elongation.

Well, I took the plunge, and bought the Addon package that includes Ella.

The first thing I did, was to lower the pitch of the voice from it’s default “32” setting in NVDA’s pitch scale in the Voice Menu, to “5”.

I found, to my gob-smacked astonishment, and my absolute delight that it worked. Not only did the pitch of her voice go down, but her formant dispersion spread was wider, and her vocal tract was lengthened.

I found the result to be so satisfactory and the illusion to be so believable that I no longer use any other of my voices. In fact, I have uninstalled all of them and now it’s Ella all the way.

She is now my new very best best friend.

It occurs to me, that this tip could be useful to any young girl who uses Ella to speak with her AAC device. And she could have the Ella voice follow her in to adulthood.

To that end, I am passing along a couple of audio files. One is Ella as she sounds originally, and the other is a grown up Ella.

Before you listen, allow me to make a small disclaimer. I don’t know who the young girl who recorded her voice for Ella is, so therefore, I just made it up about her having a dog, living with her brother Josh, and liking History in school. The grown up Ella, is entirely made up out of my imagination.

Happy listening, and I would like to know what you all think.

Little Girl Ella:

 

Grown-up Ella:


My thanks to Acapela Group for kindly posting this for me.

If there is a way that all of you could communicate with Acapela Group to tell me what you think, I would invite you to do so.

Also, you could friend me on Facebook.

I’m Michael Bayus who is blind, and I live in Sarasota Florida.

Tips: how to use the speech dictionary of NVDA

Thanks to our user Michael Bayus for sending us this “how to” article, we are grateful to Michael and happy to share this tips with all our users.

We also invite all users to send us tips on mispronounced words and names by sending an email to contact@acapela-nvda.com or use the “report a pronunciation bug” field in the type&talk demo here on this page.

How to use the speech dictionary with the Acapela TTS for NVDA add-on

The speech dictionaries menu (found in the Preferences menu) contains dialogs that allow you to manage the way NVDA pronounces particular words or phrases. There are currently three different types of speech dictionaries. They are:

  • Default: rules in this dictionary affect all speech in NVDA.
  • Voice: rules in this dictionary affect speech for the synthesizer voice currently being used.
  • Temporary: rules in this dictionary affect all speech in NVDA, but only for the current session. These rules are temporary and will be lost if NVDA is restarted.

All dictionary dialogs contain a list of rules which will be used for processing the speech. The dialog also contains Add, Edit and Remove buttons.

To access the Speech dictionaries, press and hold the NVDA key, plus N to open the NVDA menu.  Then press the down arrow once to get to the preferences menu.  press the right arrow to access it.  Press the down arrow until you hear NVDA say “Speech dics”.

To add a new rule to the dictionary, press the Add button, and fill in the fields in the dialog box that appears and then press Ok. You will then see your new rule in the list of rules. However to make sure your rule is actually saved, make sure to press Ok to exit the dictionary dialog all together once you have finished adding/editing rules.

The rules for NVDA’s speech dictionaries allow you to change one string of characters into another.  For example, I like Ella, and she is the default voice for my screen reader.  She gets the word “peruse” wrong.  She says “parice”.  To teach her to pronounce the word correctly, I would go to the “voice” dictionary, and In the Add rule dialog, I would type the word “peruse” in the Pattern field, and I would type “per ruse” in the Replacement field. Now, Ella will say: “peruse” as she should. You may also want to type a description of the rule in the Comment field (something like: changes peruse to per ruse).

NVDA’s speech dictionaries however are much more powerful than simple word replacement. The Add rule dialog also contains a checkbox to say whether or not you want the rule to be case sensitive (meaning that NVDA should care whether the characters are uppercase or lowercase, NVDA ignores case by default).

Finally, a set of radio buttons allows you to tell NVDA whether your pattern should match anywhere, should only match if it is a complete word or should be treated as a “Regular expression”.

Acapela for NVDA v1.4 is here!

Today we released the new version 1.4 of the Acapela TTS for NVDA add-on. This version brings to the NVDA add-on the latest improvements for all voices, including improvements in both sound and pronunciation for each voice.

In version v1.4 we also say hello to a new Scottish English voice named Rhona, available both as Colibri and High-Quality version.

We also extend our portfolio of Colibri voices by adding a colibri version of the Australian English voice Lisa, and the American Spanish voice Rodrigo.

After the latest additions, we can proudly announce that the Acapela TTS for NVDA add-on now provides 52 high-quality voices and 23 colibri voices.

If you already have a version of the Acapela TTS for NVDA plug-in, you can just remove the older version of engine and voices, and then download and install the new version via the NVDA “Manage add-ons” menu.

License is not affected by the update, so no action at all is required, the new version of the add-on will find and use the existing license.

Learn how to use NVDA

The American Foundation for the Blind continues its mission of providing tutorials to help Visually Impaired all over the world getting started using technology. Their later installment is an helpful tutorial on how to use the NVDA screen reader, from installation to navigating Windows. Here it is:

http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/assistive-technology-videos/learn-nvda/1234

Enjoy it!

How to use the automatic Arabic switch

The Arabic switch allows you to switch automatic to a non-arabic voice as soon as NVDA reads text in latin alphabet.

To enable it open the “Arabic Switch” command under the “Acapela TTS for NVDA” menu. In the dialog box that opens up select the “Enable” check-box and then in the “Choose a voice” list pick the voice that you want to use to read latin alphabet and click “OK”. At this point you will need to restart NVDA for the changes to take effect.

The Arabic switch only works when you have selected one of our Arabic voices as main voice for NVDA.

Acapela NVDA v1.3 with Arabic and Turkish voices

We are proud to release v1.3 of Acapela for NVDA, now including also Arabic and Turkish voices. Download this version of the software now!

For Arabic, we have also added a new command in the Acapela for NVDA menu to allow configuration of automatic switching between Arabic and non-Arabic voices depending on the text being read.

Users with earlier version of Acapela for NVDA can upgrade for free by simply downloading the new version.