[Athen] Foreign language for blind students

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Wed Jul 24 10:50:56 PDT 2019

I know this thread started out helping a deaf-blind student, but as I’m taking Spanish in the Fall, I’ve been researching more.

K1000 can do automatic language detection but it’s only at the page or paragraph level. Works great when reading a document that has a bit of prose or poetry in another language. It doesn’t work so great if you are reading a phrase or lesson book where two languages appear on one line.

K1000 also can recognize with multiple languages, which is different than language detection. Detection is handled in the “reading” settings while recognition settings let you check multiple languages for recognition purposes. But recognizing multiple languages with its built-in FineReader engine was disabled after K1000 V14.9. A licensing issue, perhaps? OmniPage – the real product as well as the engine built in to K1000 and K3000 can be set to recognize multiple languages, and accuracy is improved when that is configured.

In Word, and Duxbury (and thanks to great tutoring from Gaier) you can switch the proofing language so that screen readers and Read and Write will automatically switch languages on the Word level. Look for tutorials on how to switch to a different proofing language; highlight text in the foreign language and make the change. It’s actually a faster process for a keyboard user than it is for a mouse user, but it’s still tedious.

Balabolka also seems to notice the tags in Word files to change languages, but I couldn’t get TextAloud to do it.

If you wish to read supposedly accessible but unremediated books with speech, GOOD LUCK! I downloaded several dozen books from my local libraries in epub and PDF, both in German and Spanish. If the entire book is in the foreign language you can just switch your AT to read that language, no problem. But for lessons, none of the files, though otherwise mostly accessible, were tagged so that my AT could identify changes from one language to the other.

Also, because automatic language identification seems to not work below the paragraph level, AT doesn’t help much when reading lessons.

The experience is far better with Braille, at least with Latin languages, because the tables are similar enough. Even if table switching doesn’t occur, you can easily see how the words are spelled.

So I hope your language learners do read visually or tactually; learning just using speech is far from simple!

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Deborah Armstrong
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2019 1:28 PM
To: llewis at paciellogroup.com; Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Foreign language for blind students

Here’s a page from JAWS support you can use to test Nvda, Narrator and JAWS with speech and Braille.


It explains how JAWS switches languages automatically if tags are correct. If JAWS or another screen reader auto-switches with the samples on this page but not with *YOUR* samples there’s a problem with your samples.

There also used to be a JAWS bug that kept JAWS from switching back to English because JAWS was expecting a tag to tell it to return to English when in fact the web standards say that it’s enough to have a tag at the top of the document stating that English is the primary language.

I think they’ve fixed this bug, but if you have an older version you might want to watch out for it.

Be aware there are also two kinds of foreign language Braille. Just as we have Grade 2, UEB and computer Braille, foreign languages have their own contracted Braille. But, when one is learning the language, the standard is to transcribe the foreign language portion in Grade 1 uncontracted Braille and just include the accent signs.

German contracted Braille for example is just as complex as our grade 2, and though I speak German I read the contractions with great difficulty. This is because I only learned it for a year when I was nineteen so I’m terrible at it.

But reading German by setting my display to use the computer Braille table is easy for me because it is just the alphabet and the special accented letters.
For the above explanations, I’m neither a Braille transcriber nor an HTML wiz, so I’ve simplified some of this explanation so it makes sense to us average folk!

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Larry L. Lewis, Jr.
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:53 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Foreign language for blind students

As a blind, Braille user who has also taken foreign languages, I would say that you are on the right track by providing accessible PDF’s with the appropriate language tags present throughout the documentation. You’ll also want to make sure that the student is using the appropriate Braille tables with JAWS to accurately reflect these Language Changes. His Braille output will need to be set to computer Braille. You can pick a primary Braille Table for the primary language being used, but can then switch to other preferred Braille tables for alternative languages. I’m fairly certain that when JAWS switches to the alternative Language, the alternative Braille table will also be in use. Whereas this individual is deaf-blind, solid Braille Access will be imperative for him to be successful.

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From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Pfau, Jillian
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2019 9:58 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Foreign language for blind students

Hi ATHENites,

I’m reaching out regarding any experience you may have with providing alternate format materials for foreign language courses. For Fall 19, we have a deaf/blind student registered for Italian. He uses braille and JAWS and typically requests accessible .pdfs, but I’m wondering if this will be sufficient considering the particular challenges related to learning a foreign language.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated… and feel free to contact off-list at jillian.pfau at montgomerycollege.edu<mailto:jillian.pfau at montgomerycollege.edu>.

Best regards,

Jillian Pfau
Coordinator of Assistive Technology, college-wide
Disability Support Services
Montgomery College<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.montgomerycollege.edu_&d=DwMFaQ&c=WORo6LNFtQOb4SPVta8Jsg&r=K_2Yg4I05GGnHlSOevlp3QeE5-JEqtmoUnmP0YVj9ZM&m=ckdL9X1nnfBGrX1zMBBG_499gubI-W4kcL3kVEwOD7Q&s=Zy6MvVcByLwa_buD4fw4V13VDGUndhRnpyi4iSm_e3M&e=>
Tel. 240-567-5224

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