[Athen] Natural-sounding text-to-speech tech?

foreigntype at gmail.com foreigntype at gmail.com
Tue Apr 20 12:23:23 PDT 2021

I once contracted to do alt-text conversions in Kurzweil for Physics,
Chemistry and Spanish.

Kurzweil uses an Abbyy Fine Reader lite version for the alt-text conversion
and doesn't render math or any hard STEM sciences into TTS with any real
accuracy (at all). For the physics books, I used the method Shelley
describes: setting exact (correct) pronunciations of terminology which
involves selecting the text, marking it, copying each corrected word to a
specialized "pronunciation" dictionary, writing out the correct phonetic
pronunciation, listening to it and correcting the phonetics until the word
is pronounced correctly by the speech engine, then saving the
pronunciation in the pronunciation word bank, doing a search and replace
for every single instance that word appears in the text and changing them
all. For every single misrecognized word in the textbook(s). I did three
years' of HS physics textbooks for a total of approximately 1500 pages
(textbooks only, not including all the workbooks and supplementary
materials). I ended up with approximately 12,000 phonetically corrected
words in the word bank dictionary for those three textbooks. The chemistry
was harder & more time consuming because of the function signs. Is it
possible? Yes. There is no "easy button" for it though.

This kind of alt text conversion is definitely not for the faint-of-heart
alt-text production specialists! Design Science (now Wiris) has some good
software for creating both accessible math and accessible sciences
--specifically chemistry-- (using math ml and chem ml); EquatIO from
TextHelp does a good job rendering math as TTS and is working on increasing
their chemistry-to-speech recognition. EPubs using Thorium Reader does a
good job with math (as long as the math has been input using MathType in MS
Word) as a TTS. Central Access Reader is good with math as well, with two
caveats: one, the math ml must be done in MS Word and edited for
correctness; it is designed for sighted readers with a reading or math
disability, not for low or non-sighted users.

Just a few afterthoughts based on Shelley's helpful suggestions.

Wink Harner
Accessibility Consultant/Alternative Text Production
The Foreign Type

Portland OR
foreigntype at gmail.com

This email was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Please forgive
quirks, misrecognitions, or errata .

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 9:39 AM Mary Popish <popish at pdx.edu> wrote:

> Hi everybody,


> I hope you are well! I'm writing to see if anyone has suggestions for

> text-to-speech tech that:


> - Can reliably pronounce science and math content correctly, and

> - Sounds as natural as possible.


> I'm working with a student who is taking upper division science courses

> and is struggling with mispronunciation from the computer-generated voices

> in Kurzweil, Voice Dream Reader, and Voice Over. The student is an

> iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS user.


> In a best-case scenario, the student would prefer a human voice recording,

> but most of their course materials are not available in audiobook format.

> I'm working on finding a creative tech-based alternative, and I'd

> appreciate any suggestions you might have!


> Take care,

> Mary


> *Mary Popish*

> Adaptive Technology Specialist & Alternate Formats Coordinator

> Disability Resource Center

> Portland State University


> Phone: (503) 725-9119

> Fax: (503) 725-4103

> Email: drc at pdx.edu

> URL: http://www.pdx.edu/d

> <https://www.pdx.edu/disability-resource-center/>isability-resource-center

> Pronouns: she / her / hers


> ---


> We hope you are doing well during this difficult time. We are still here

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