A visit to the Assistive Technology Industry Association 2013 conference where the Microsoft team kindly showed me how we could work in Arabic and English plus the arrival of our Dell tablet with Windows 8 has made us look at the issue of Qatari Arabic support and Windows in depth.
We downloaded the language pack and changed the keyboard and all seemed well but it appears from the email I received from their product advisor that there is no Window Arabic voice at present.
“I researched the question to see if Windows 8 supports Arabic (namely Qatari dialect) text to speech. Unfortunately, at this time, Windows 8 does not support it. Only certain languages are included in the built in software.”
So back to the drawing board for the ATbar desktop option – Narrator is not going to speak in Arabic unless someone has found an Arabic Windows system with a well hidden free voice from Microsoft! If anyone has found a solution to this problem please do let us know!
More research and thanks to a recent development with Arabic eSpeak we now have a free voice, Testing has shown that the voice needs to be improved but with work on the phonetics in the future this is something that could be done. The aim is to ship NVDA with the ATbar desktop version and the Arabic eSpeak voice. It will not really be an acceptable voice where a Nuance or Acapela option is available.
The Windows 8 mobile OS has the potential to support more Arabic options and offers translation from OCR although the actual text is still not 100% correct – Spot the problem!
Nuance has a choice of Arabic voices for mobile and has added speech recognition but none of our team have been able to test its success rates. Google has also rolled out speech recognition in Arabic for Android phones
We have been testing online speech recognition systems offered by Google Chrome and they really are not very successful in the Arabic dialects offered. Below is an example of Speech Recognizer in Arabic.
The TalkTyper system uses Speech Recognizer for speech recognition as well as text to speech – the latter uses a very good voice in Arabic – we are still exploring which voice is used but it sounds like Nuance Maged in Arabic.
What this spot for updates next week linked to the ATbar desktop app and ATbar TTS.