Category Archives: tips

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.


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 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”.

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:

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.