Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

EBU Access Cast

EBU Access Cast 32 transcript

Aug 19, 2021

Transcript of EBU Access Cast - episode 32



This programme is financially supported by the fundings from the European Commission.

You are listening to the EBU Access Cast. The official podcast from European Blind Union about assistive technology for blind and partially sighted people.

And here is our host.




(Tanja) Hello, everyone, welcome to Episode 32 of the EBU Access Cast. This is our last episode before summer break. And I hope you're doing great. My name is Tanja Kleut and I am based in Luxembourg. In this episode, I am joined by Paweł Masarczyk, based in Austria. Hello Pawel.


(Pawel) Hello. Tanja. Glad to hear from you again.


(Tanja) Glad to hear from you too. And we have also Mario Percinic based in Luxembourg. Hello, Mario.


(Mario) Hello.


(Tanja) How are you guys? What's going on?


(Mario) We are alive. Not flooded, fortunately. The flood got quite close to the place where I live, but it's fortunate I'm on the hill, so it didn't affect me, which is good. But yeah, man in the western Germany and the whole Benelux, it's really terrible. And we're so sorry to hear that there were even some people with disabilities who unfortunately died in all of this. So, yeah, condolences to all of those families from the people. But fortunately, we are still alive. So that's good. And we wish the speedy recovery to everybody who got hurt in this terrible accident.


(Tanja) Yes, exactly.


(Mario) Yeah, but we're fine. And we are here to deliver our last episode before summer break (singing summer break). Yeah, man, I'm really looking forward to it.


(Tanja) Finally to have some sun and sea.


(Mario) And yeah, actually, for people who don't know, like the last four weeks in Luxembourg were terrible regarding the weather. It was, I don't know, 24/7 rain, almost.

(Tanja) Yes. For us from Croatia, having one month of rain, during summer, by the way…


(Mario) Yeah.


(Tanja) It's just unacceptable. You cannot survive with this weather.


(Mario) The daily temperatures in average didn't go over like 15, 16. If there would be 20 considered like warm. Ah, man, it's really not good. But, OK, we are here.


(Pawel) Yeah, here also in Austria the weather is quite variable, going from very high temperatures and unbearable heat to very rainy days like today. Today, it's quite grey outside. It's not very inviting to go out. But I'm happy that, well, the world is relaxing somewhat and people are more willing to go out and meet. I missed that. And finally, we might be able to travel this season at least a little bit, maybe not far, maybe somewhere. So that's good. I'm happy about that. And again, sorry to everyone who is affected by the floods. I only know them from the news, but I lived in Luxembourg myself at some point. So I definitely know of some people, including you people who might be affected. So, yeah, all the best wishes to all of you in the countries which are that heavily influenced by this at the moment. Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully the situation will be better soon.


(Tanja) Yes, let's hope that things will turn out alright.

Do you have any recommendations or new gadgets that you would like to mention in our pre-news section?


(Mario) Actually, I don't have anything to recommend except the fact that the last month was the month of disaster for some tech stuff which got broken in, but fortunately got repaired.

I got my old laptop. I got an accident with the battery because I realised that my battery is swollen on my laptop, which eventually happens from time to time by itself. You don't have to do anything. Unfortunately, that's a hardware bug, let's call it like that. And I realised that at one point I just could not close my laptop anymore. And then I brought it to one guy who is a hardware guy for repairs, and he told me like, “hey, this is very dangerous to use it, you have to repair it as soon as possible or check if it's possible to repair it”. So I was lucky to find a very good service here in Luxembourg, which repairs computers and smartphones and iPads and all kinds of different tech stuff. So they were very, very professional, I have to say, and very kind. And they repaired it for a very good price I have to say. Now I have two machines because in the meantime, I had to buy a new one because I didn't know whether this one will be possible to repair and blah, blah, blah. But it's OK. I got this new machine and the old machine as a spare one, which is always good to have because. Well, you never know. So, yes, but other than that, speaking of the accessibility stuff and the blind techy things – no. Not from me.


(Tanja) Pawel, What about you?


(Pawel) I'll be actually mentioning something I discovered last week, two weeks before, which is an interesting software slash website slash app, but that belongs to the U.S. So it has a lot to do with not taking and sharing the notes with others and making them look nice and making them look organised. So let's wait for that second to come. But other than that, no, I haven't had anything to test for a while.

(Tanja) OK, we will mention this in the news section. Actually, I don't know, maybe this is interesting for our female listeners because I bought a bag for a laptop that is nice and elegant and is actually for women. It's for smaller laptops, for 14 inch laptop and it's from Samsonite. Samsonite Zalia 2.0 Backpack with Flap. The colour that I chose is black, but you have also stone grey and midnight blue, if that is something that means to you. So it's a type of blue colour and it's quite nice. It has a lot of pockets and it looks nice. So you don't have a standard backpack if you want to look elegant at the same time. So I think this is something nice.


Accessibility in the news


Digital Covid certificates


(Tanja) Well, I'm preparing for travelling, finally, after almost two years, like most of you probably. And something that we need during our travel is the EU covid certificate, which is delivered in paper or in digital format. In digital format, we have the PDF document, which is actually surprising at one side, I have to say, because the PDF is not the most accessible or not the most popular amongst the accessibility community. But at the same time, unfortunately, I have to say, it is very much use in the administration field. So we have it as PDF document. And then the question is, if we want to use it as a digital document, which applications or PDF readers we can use to make visible the QR code, because sometimes the document opens in that way that you have to zoom to make visible the QR code that you have to give to the control to scan it. And that's Bart for Screen reader users is difficult because if the document is not fully accessible and you don't know where to Zoom is just making that moment difficult. So we discovered that actually some applications open the document completely and some don't. And you have some findings, Mario and Pawel, about this.


(Pawel) Yeah, we look at Android mostly, I guess, so that's a bit one sided because I don't know how this looks on iOS.


(Tanja) In iOS I was using the Documents application. And, well, I didn't have the chance to use it to scan it, but it should work all right.


(Mario) So it's interesting to see how the Android behaves in that kind of situation, because from the accessibility point of view, you would expect that Adobe Reader, which is, the most accessible on the Windows platform, would kind of behave the same under Android, which unfortunately is not the case because this is the viewer, which unfortunately makes the most problems for us if we really don't have any sight. The PDF gets open, but in order to see the complete content, you have to zoom through it, and it's really terrible to do that alone because the TalkBack or any other Screen reader doesn't speak as much as it has to. And the only solution what you have to do in the end, if you are using Adobe on your Android is to give the phone to somebody else. And then in the same time, you have to turn off your TalkBack because the gestures are not the same for blind people and people who can see. So at that point, I don't think it's secure enough to do that, and I always prefer to manoeuvre the things myself, if possible. So I was really, when I discovered that the Adobe Reader doesn't work as expected, I was desperate to find something else, and after asking around the various groups and experimentation, I discovered that the other third party apps, such as the OneDrive or the Google Drive or even the Dropbox have the PDF viewers on their own, and if you select, let's say I selected for myself a Google drive to open that my PDF cert with it, which I have stored locally on my mobile, so it's not anywhere in the cloud. If I open that through the PDF viewer in Google Drive, then it opens in the full view and people are able to see my QR code right away. And I can even scroll down through the rest of the document. The thing is that when you get the Covid certificate, you are not just having your document, which is showing your QR code. You have also the rest of information, which can be very important for you, because there is written where did you get vaccinated and where do you come from, which country, etc, etc.? Because from my understanding is that when you scan the QR code, the only thing you are getting is like if your certificate is valid or not, but you're not getting any more information where do you come from, how many doses did you get, et cetera, et cetera, for that kind of stuff, you have to scroll down through the document to show it to the others so they can see it. And that's why this is important to have. Just to open in those viewers, unfortunately, Adobe, will not work.


(Pawel) What I tried to find was a PDF viewer that would work also with local files and offline, I guess you can store all these cloud files offline because obviously if you're flying, it might be that you don't have access to your Internet. At some point, you can, right? You can store the files offline with the drives.


(Mario) Sure, that’s how I open. First I had the file locally stored on my phone so I just open the file with my viewer.


(Pawel) Yeah. What I thought what might also work would be a PDF viewer that displays the PDF as a web view because then you can navigate it pretty much like a website and then you can also scroll it as much as you want and you can even locate the individual items on the screen so you can be sure what's visible and what's not. The problem was that I even found a library that programmers can use to design such PDF readers. But none of these readers based on the library, was working as it should. So in one case, there was a Web view, but nothing was read by TalkBack in the other case everything was read in one line, so basically the way every PDF is read on the Android, which makes it, by the way, very difficult, for instance, to browse menus in restaurants even if they're available online. That's what I found, because everything is read at once and you can't really focus on what is the dish and what is the price and then the next one and it's quite cumbersome to read. But that was the problem and I tried to find it. So if any of you knows accessible PDF reader that is based on a web view and lets you navigate a PDF like a web view with all the elements. So if there are headings I can go by headings, if there is a table, I can navigate a table and so on. Feel free to chime in because that's something I would find would work perfectly on Android, but seems to be missing for some reason and I try to open the PDF with Chrome OS. I even tried to install some kind of extension for the Firefox Android browser,


(Mario laughing) Man.


(Pawel) But somehow I couldn't get it to work anyway. And I would rather avoid using because obviously I could find some online PDF VoiceOver website where you load the PDF and will just display on the website. But I would not like to give my private files like this to some third party website. I don't know. Yeah. So if you know any offline PDF reader that does it, possibly open source but doesn't have to be free to chime in because there would be something that would perfectly work on Android I think.


(Mario) Yeah. By the way, just a tip to the other people who are eventually on the Android side, don't even try to use a specialised kind of PDF readers which are available through the app such as the Envision or the Sulivan Plus because they will be open, but the QR code won't be visible on the screen. And that's something thatyou want to avoid.


(Pawel) They do the OCR and they strip the whole graphical, the whole visual aspect of the file, right?


(Mario) Yeah, but for some reason, people who were checking out my screen were sighted. They could see all the rest of the stuff. Butnot the QR code.


(Pawel) Mm hmm.


(Mario) Because it's probably because the file is encrypted and that's why.


(Tanja) Yes, the file is encrypted. And that is… Well, I understand the reason, But it's a problem for accessibility, because when you want to read your document on the computer, Windows computer with NVDA or JAWS, you cannot because the file is protected. So you have to find some workarounds to be able to read the document. So this is, again, why I don't think a PDF is a good format, but well, that's what we have. And actually on my applications, where I opened the certificate in Documents and Books, which are the default PDF viewers on iOS. I was able to navigate, but the problem is that the PDF document is not fully accessible. So anyway, you cannot really navigate by having headings and images that have alt behind so that you know where is the QR code. You're just guessing because I had some four graphics without any label, maybe the logotypes from the organisations who provided the certificates, I suppose, and then some text and again a bit of images without any description. So, yes. And VoiceOver was able to read “certificate” on one image, but the rest was not read out. So it really depends on the accessibility of the PDF document at the same time, which should be there.


Taking notes with Simplenote app


(Tanja) Then, well, when you're travelling, or not, it's handy to have your notes with you or to write notes on your mobile phone and then also read them on your desktop. And there is an application called Simple Note that Pawel would like to talk about.


(Pawel) Yes, I discovered it actually quite by chance because first I was looking for a markdown compatible note taking application, markdown is a special kind of mark-up language. It is a bit like HTML, if you know this, but simpler. So it's easier to learn and it's faster to use to format your notes or text any kind of text for my own purposes.


(Tanja) Can you explain more. Yes, because actually by reading about this application, I was reading also about markdown and it's quite fascinating. It's so simple and much more accessible than rich text formatting for us.


(Pawel) Yes. Basically what you do is you type all the formatting you want to do in line by using specially assigned characters. So for instance, if you would like to place a heading in your text, you just type the number of the hash signs that you would like, like amounting to the level of the headings. So if you would like a heading level one in your text, you just put a single hash space and then the text. That should be the heading. If you would like level 2, you will do to hashes, level three free hashes. I don't think it goes any deeper than if you would like to do numbered lists or lists with items you just enumerate each item with a dash at the beginning of the line and it will automatically turn into a list. And in this way you can do a lot of formatting, you can italicise text, you can make it bold, you can manipulate the fonts. I think you can put links, you can put images even of other descriptions. You can render tables that are completely accessible with the proper heading markings of the semantic mark-up. You can do lists of checkboxes. So for example, tasks that are completed. And I really like to think of it with the example of a shopping list. So we live with somebody when we make a shopping list and in markdown, you can make a list of items that are checkboxes that are either checked or untracked. And once one person buys an item, they can uncheck it off the list and it will be automatically synchronised with the others. If, of course, you keep your markdown files in some way, that is synchronisable. Simple Note does it, for example. But you can also host local files with Dropbox and do it like this if you want. Um, the beauty of it lies in the fact that they are simple text files.


You can write them even with your standard Windows notepad, you can even write them with your Braille display that has note taking capabilities. I have my Braille Edge 40, for example, and I can type the whole markdown formatting by hand on the Braille display. And then once I synchronise it to my computer, I copy the files, I open them with a markdown editor. I would have to change the extension from TXT to MD and if I open it with the right editor, it will show me the nicely formatted Web page like note with headings, with links, with anything I want. And it's quite intuitive to learn because, well, quite often we start enumerating things on the list with dashes is intuitive. We do it like this because that's how it's written and it uses this intuition approach to basically make it also so easy to learn and so seamless that you don't even have to think that you're doing markdown. Still, there is some stuff you can learn if you go to, you can have a look at the whole cheat sheet of the markdown syntax and you can read all about the different marking styles and the different signs that you can use to do the formatting and simple not make use of that. If you think of all the platforms like Evernote, like Google Keep, like Microsoft OneNote, Simple Note is something like that, except it's to -some extent open source. The apps are open source, but it's also it's an app for both iOS and Android. It's a Windows 10 software you can download from the Windows store. There is a version for the Mac and for Linux, and there is also a website where you can launch the whole experience from and you can run it in any browser on any device really. It didn't used to be that accessible, I heard, because I know somebody who tested it out back in 2015, I think, and it wasn't so cool. Now everything about it is accessible. So every single item on the page has a shortcut. Even to jump through the search field you can use a shortcut, of course, to start a node, to go to the menu to do a lot of stuff. You can use shortcuts. There is an editor that is fully accessible. They use the Monocle editor, which is made by Microsoft, and it even has a special accessibility, dedicated Web page on their GitHub. So you can read about the different shortcut keys. There is an accessibility mode that you can turn on if you use some of the features. You actually have spoken announcements. By your screen reader, so you will know what's going on and you can do a lot in the Simple Note, you can of course write a note in either simple text or markdown. You can Sort the notes by tags, which is a very popular way of categorising anything really these days. So instead of having directories or folders, you will just have a tag and you can assign one of those to multiple tags and multiple nodes to one tag and you can cross-reference everything. So it's definitely good for organising your efforts in neat categories like that. You can collaborate on one node with other people. So here, a shopping list example is very good because you can invite somebody, you know, by their email address to work with you on the note. And you can even if you have put the mark down once for the shopping list, you can switch to the preview mode where everything is output as formatted content. So you see the checkbox is there. And if you click on the checkbox, for example, to make it checked, it will be reflected in your markdown syntax. So you don't have to type anything manually anymore. You just take the checkboxes one or other way and they will be synchronised to the other people, too. You can insert a lot of the items with commands. For example, for the checkboxes you have a shortcut key. If you press control shift C, you will be able to insert a checkbox with a shortcut instead of typing the syntax manually. You can cross-reference other nodes so you can add a link to another note you have in the system. So then you can click on the link and you'll be jumping straight to another node.


You can quickly switch the shortcut key on the Windows side or in the browser is control shift P and on the mobile systems, on iOS, you just flick with three fingers left and right and on Android it's two fingers left and right. You can switch quickly between the edit mode and the preview mode so you can quickly see if what you have written makes any sense, and if the formatting works in Markdown. You can publish a note, which means you can generate a link that is available to everybody and they can just enter your sort of web page and browse your note in the browser. And it's nice because it doesn't put much Simplenote stuff in there. There is just a footer that says (created with simple note( or something like that. But other than this, from the bottom to the top, it's just the things that you put there so you can make a mini website for anything or really nicely formatted experience if you want to demonstrate anything or show anything to somebody.


 (Tanja) But sharing with everyone or only to those with whom you shared the link?


(Pawel)You can do both. So you can you can share the node with the people that you want by email and then it jumps in, it appears automatically in there, Simple note apps, so they can work with you, or you can make a link, and then the link is, well, just available to those of you, those who share it with. It's not indexed anywhere. AR, I don't know if Google indexes these notes. I haven't checked it really. But there is no index where people can just look up these notes. So it's in on principle, it should be only available to people who you give the link, but at least you can link it to the external world. So others who don't even have Simplenote can see what you've put there. You can also connect Simplenote to WordPress, which is no surprise, because at the moment it's managed by the same company that WordPress is headed by automattic with double t second time, And it's maybe also because of that it's got some accessibility, both Bart. You can connect your Simplenote to WordPress and you can publish any note as a WordPress blog post. And you also have access to the history which allows you to go back in time and bring back some previous editions of the same note so that you can go back. If you made some mistake and you cannot take it back. You can always try with a previous version of the note and the whole experience is free of charge. There is no premium plan for the time being. It's accessible. As I said, it's exclusively in English, although the Android app from what I have seen, is partly translated at least to Polish. So maybe other languages are available too. And I would say it's a very good app if you want to get into notes, if you would like to synchronise them across many of your own devices, if you would like to synchronise them with other people, if you would like to have something to write in Markdown with, and it does its job quite nicely. So I must say it works for a lot of note taking purposes and it supports Markdown, which is a very good system for so many users, because I had a chance recently to give a workshop to some international students of school age to tell. About many things, it was about a well, different ways in which you can obtain accessible study materials, but I also put in there a mention of Markdown and there were some practical exercises, and at least one person was quite curious and they said they would be able to imagine using it for school notes. So you can see that this Markdown can be very useful even at such an early educational stage. But it's really good for putting your efforts together for, I don't know, shopping list for even if we wanted to make some notes for the podcast or put some topics together, it could be quite useful to to develop any kind of plan, any kind of task list. As I said, tables work to so it's it's very flexible and extensive and it's also quite simple to use.

Um, so I think it's worth learning. It is worth learning because more and more apps supported there is even a NVDA add on somewhere that lets you convert a Markdown syntax into a webpage that you can view. And there are Markdown tools to convert Markdown to Word documents. There isPandoc, which is a multipurpose text converter from different formats to different formats, and this also supports Markdown. I think there is a Firefox add on for Markdown if you want to write something on a blog or in any editor with Markdown. So it's quite extensive. If you have a look and Google around what you can do with Markdown, you will see that is used for so many purposes and Simplenote is a great example of an app that is accessible and it lets you collaborate on notes that are also written in Markdown.

(Tanja) Brilliant, and what I can say is that it's much faster to write in Markdown than with standard text editors that you may use in different CMS editors. So it's quite a discovery.

(Pawel)  Yeah, you don't have to finally, like, go back and forth saying, OK, have I formatted this or can I format that? Even in Microsoft Word, it works differently, ok you have shortcuts for this But it's sometimes a bit trickier, like you can theoretically turn on some kind of heading mode and type in the heading, but it's probably much better to select the text afterwards and format it.

And here you can do it as you go. And it will be formatted straight away, so I can say it's I think we used to do it like that in Microsoft dos like there were there was there were text editors that would let you type in some kind of syntax and you would get the formatting you wanted on the printed page that came out of your printer. But, well, now it's back and it's quite present.

(Mario) Yeah, I have to say that from my point of view, one of the best things regarding the whole story of Simple Note is the fact that you get quite the same experience on whatever platform you choose regarding the accessibility. Which is also very important if you want to if you want to make anything synced between the devices. So, yeah, that's that's really cool.

(Pawel)  The only thing I wouldn't recommend doing is working on the same note all at once as a couple of people from my tests I have seen that there were some problems of syncing across different accounts, different people in general, some last days. But definitely if there are 3 people, for example, trying to type something at the same time, just garbage will come out. So they haven't gotten it to the point where you can basically like in Google Docs type multiple things at once and somebody is doing something three lines above you and you're doing something in your line and somebody's three lines below you.

It doesn't work like that, sadly. So it's best if one person works at a time. But then once this person starts typing something, after a while, it gets synchronised so people will be able to see this work quite instantly.

 (Mario) OK,

(Tanja) yeah, well, talking about notes and reminders, but reminders are something different. I really like the features of creating a reminder by voice, for example, through Google Home Device and inside the Google home app, you have also the shopping list feature. So it adds you to the shopping list, as we were mentioning the shopping list before. However, if you are an iOS user, you will not get the reminders on your phone only if you have Android because you need to have the Google assistant. And unfortunately, the Google assistant is not available for me. It says that is not available in my country or region. So maybe somewhere else people can get notifications from Google or iOS phone an iPhone. But not for me. But I find it really practical. For example, when I need something on the way, I just say to Google and then it's recorded on the app. But OK, today you can use so many devices and say, so what? Which reminder you would like to have. But I it's a problem if you don't have the same ecosystem and then just the message is lost somewhere.

(Pawl) Mm hmm.

(Tanja) Yeah.


New accessibility features in iOS15


(Tanja) OK, so I suggest to continue with another topic, which is the accessibility features in iOS 15 that is currently better if you would like to test. I did not test iOS myself because I use my phone for work, too, and I would like to be sure that it doesn't crash suddenly or it doesn't work at some point. But what we have found so far are some interesting features like Siri. Apparently will  have also offline mode for basic tasks like setting an alarm or a timer, which is quite nice. Then what is also similar to what we have in Seeing AI so I wonder now, because if they're announcing as a novelty of iOS, it seems that it will be available. Also outside of Seeing AI is exploring images and the position of objects, People, text on the image. Apparently these should be now available in inside the images, then, what else? Well, there are many other features, what I find fascinating. One of the features is that now you will have sound controls for some switches. Instead of pressing something, you will be able to create the sound with your mouth and then practically that switch will be activated.

(Pawel) Yes, many of these features, actually, what you mentioned with the image exploring this was actually announced as a part of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day from Apple. And this is really nice that they already make like public announcements and press releases about accessibility features even before releasing the actual system. I really find it exciting that we live in the times where a company actually makes a huge announcement and all the mainstream media pick on about what will happen with VoiceOver. This is so great. Yes, and it's there. You can explore photos. You can even use the rotor to explore by objects. So, for example, you turn by Rohter to the objects and you drug your finger up and down. You will hear about a guitar in the left upper corner, a person with this and that hair and this and that and your face, right lower right corner, and there is a life text feature where it's even useful for people who don't need to use VoiceOver where you basically point your camera at something and it will try to detect any text you can interact with. So if there is a phone number, you will be able to click and call it. If there is an email address, you can click on and write an email. And what apparently somebody achieved with this was scanning a capture code like a text capture, and they were able to solve a capture using just this feature, because you can also do it on your screen.

(Tanja) So I wonder I wonder how secure then this capture is?

(Pawel) Well, this is this is why we are getting all thischoose A car out of five pictures story because the text captures are becoming easier and easier to recognise with simple OCR. But what I also found quite nice, and I think this is a novelty on the market altogether, and I really miss having this in any other ecosystem because I can't use this with my family at the moment. So there is a couple of enhancements to FaceTime, one of them being the spatial audio, which I also quite find nice find quite nice, because it will let you if you have the proper the compatible headphones hear people in space, left, right, centre, according to how they are positioned on the screen. That's how I understand it. And also FaceTime itself should get some quality boost to the sound. And there will be also a way to create external links for people who don't have any Apple device to come on your face time codes pretty much like you do with zoo meetings or teams meetings, which I find also nice because, well, I have been shut out of FaceTime for the last eight years. And then what they also introduced is display feature where you can stream or watch a movie or listen to some music together over a FaceTime call. And the best thing about it is, from what I have read, is that you can actually each party can pick their own audio and image settings, which for us means that my parents who can see would be able to see and watch the film without on your description. And I could pick out the ascription just for myself and we would be able to watch each of us with the settings that we want. Also, you would be able to pick your favourite language version that way. So let's hope that all this major streaming services will implement this feature, because it would be great to start watching content with the settings that you like, because for now, somebody has to compromise and we have to choose how do we do this so that nobody is bothered or nobody is at a loss for some information. What I quite also liked is that apparently what was shown in the keynote was the API for audio graphs. So we had some audio graphs before in the weather app, for example, in the stocks app, and now from what I have heard from the keynotes, anyone, any developer would be able to implement the audiographs  in their own app wherever they find it's useful. I think also implementing Rotar actions and or custom rotor categories has become easier because the developers can now declare if they implement any kind of heading or item in an app, they can just say, OK, this element should be a category on the rotor, and to this category, this and this and this. Items will belong, and the person using this VoiceOver will just be able to turn the rotor around in some shopping app and find like discounts or bargain of the day, and they'll be just able to navigate with the up and down finger between the corresponding items to just find anything that belongs to that category.

So I think, as always, it's quite exciting what is happening with VoiceOver and accessibility in general in iOS. And I'm looking forward to seeing this in action. Maybe some of this on my iPod, maybe some of this will see. We'll see.

(Tanja) And then for Partially sighted users, they have also some improvements, like you can customise the accessibility like colour, filter, contrast or font size in particular, particularly in every application. Or you can use your iPhone as a magnifier if you need that. So we're really looking forward to it in September,

(Mario) I have to say that regarding all of this news, which we heard. I am still waiting for the Croatian for Croatian voice to come in the iOS, which will be probably iOS 20 or I don't know when the thing is now that what we are seeing, if everything what we just mentioned is coming to the iOS 15. What I have to say is that, again, we will see a huge a milestone ahead. From the Apple accessibility towards Android, like the features which they're implementing AR. Much, much more advanced than what we currently have in Android. I thought that Google will speed up and learn something from it, but eventually Google never learns. And that's that's kind of kind of unfortunate because iOS 14, brought up the screen recognition and we are still in the Android 12 where they are just maybe saying that it will be announced. But nobody is anything saying publicly, at least officially, publicly. And it's I mean, I don't know.

(Pawel)  My impression is that Google is catching up and they are doing great steps, but they're always catching up. And it's it's.

(Mario) But they are always catching up.

(Pawel)  Yeah. But let's see, they're making these bigger steps now with the multi finger gestures, like, OK, people have been asking for years, but finally, it's there. It's not like a minor update with some cosmetic changes. It's something really huge for the Google, of course, and iOS is innovating. So that's the difference that Google is catching up. So they are doing big features, big feature announcements, but it's still catching up. And iOS is innovating where they still think like where all the people say noctis is not impossible for blind people to do or this is not this is not going to be accessible. No way. And they are just proving this can be possible.

(Mario) Yeah. I mean, what what I can say publicly here in the podcast is that once I see the apple get the Croatian voice implemented as it's supposed to, I'm I'm moving to the iOS. Because I'm sick and tired of being left behind in the Android world, where we have to wait for some simple things to be implemented. It's it's I mean, it's it's it's not fair.

(Pawel) Yeah. Yeah, I can agree. And I see myself these days also using my iPod more and more for different tasks for some apps that I don't think will ever come to Android for not just accessibility reasons, but all the implementation reasons, some other things. And I just realising that maybe if I had this iPhone, I would be so much more productive. I don't know, because I haven't used it day by day for years. But something tells me it might be the case. And even I had this conversation with some friends recently, and it turns out that what is apparently the case on iOS is that if you have an application of some TV provider or video streaming by default, you are using some kind of default Apple library for presenting video content, which means that by default, you also get the ability to switch voice tracks on your tracks. So if your TV provider offers a or multiple language versions, you'll be able to switch with the rotor because that's what Apple implemented in the player. And most TV providers don't mess with the player. And also, if you have Subtitles VoiceOver, We ripped it up subtitles because that's how the player is made. Some companies, of course, do that. They they mess with things and they implement their own controls and libraries and that doesn't work. But for most who don't care and they just implement it so that it's out there and people can use it. But if you pick some random provider up to watch your TV channels, you will most likely get AD and subtitles read out by VoiceOver. And I find it amazing because on Android, my impression is that everyone can use what they want, which is of course great for freedom and oppressor's purposes. But it also means your accessibility experience would be quite fragmented.

(Mario)  Yeah,

(Pawel) and in the end, it's not good, not good for us, for users.

(Mario) And I, I really have the impression that people who are responsible for the development of the accessibility services in general in Google should be a people, OK? My impression is that there should be people with disabilities who are representing the stuff. But OK, they don't have to be necessarily because we can see, for example, from the Apple's side that the person who is responsible for the overall accessibility, representation and management inside the apple knows technically much more than the person who is doing that for Google. And I'm sorry that to say that in public, but I've seen that last podcast, which was published a few weeks ago, where they had the representative from Google talking about the new things which might be coming in the Android and TalkBack. I had the impression that, well, I'm sorry, but that person. Should sit down and learn much, much more than he knows as of right now, like saying publicly, oh, yeah, you know, I'm a sighted person and I never used the Screen reader that much. How is it possible to use. God damn it, man. This is unacceptable. We are in 2021, and if you're working for a company such as Google



Who is, what we said previously, like catching up, This is unacceptable. This is really unacceptable, man, and that's why I said, like, as soon as the iOS starts speaking Croatian, I'm moving away, I'm sorry. I spent on the Android platform ten years. I enjoyed, I still enjoy using the platform, but seeing how much Apple is going fast forward with the accessibility improvements towards towards Google who is all the time catching up, I can't stand it anymore, Sorry. [laughter]

(Pawel) Yeah, I can imagine, can imagine. I don't think I would be able to abandon Android, like, for good because there are some aspects of it that, uhh, I would still enjoy.

(Mario) Of course, there’s the flexibility.

(Pawel) So I think I’d like to keep my old device around, but, uhm, I'm thinking, yeah, just as you, I'm thinking of of the iOS more and more. OK.

(Tanja) OK, so you…

(Pawel) The EBU Access Cast where we started ranting about Android. Haha! Who could have thought?

(Mario) Yeah, yeah.

(Tanja) Yeah. So you'll be on the dark side then. [laughter]

(Mario, in a dark voice) We'll be on the dark siiiide!

(Pawel) Apples are red last time I checked.

[everyone laughs]

(Mario) Yeah

(Tanja) maybe green. [laughter]

(Pawel) Some of them, yeah.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Tanja) OK.


Windows 11 accessibility announcement


Well, well, let's continue with another operating system. Otherwise we will start to fight here, I see as things are evolving. Microsoft and Windows 11, but we don't have much information on accessibility features. Actually, on the on June 24th, when Windows 11 was announced, there was no mention of accessibility. And the…

(Mario) No, on that day there was nothing. They didn’t mention anything about it.

(Tanja) Yes, and I have to say this is quite disappointing because if you announce an operating system, you should announce their accessibility features, too, because persons with disabilities are also users as anyone else, but it's not only, but we know very well that accessibility features are not only for persons with disabilities, that the same features can benefit anyone, usability in general; but Okay. Then, afterwards, some more information were published on accessibility features, but actually not many. There is an article on the Microsoft website “What's new in Windows Eleven?”. First of all, they say that this operating system will be the most accessible from all other previous operating system from Microsoft, but I didn't see much arguments for this. They said that Narrator will support Azure servers and that captions will be redesigned, that voice typing will be better supported; but this is really in general, we don't have much concrete information. But of course, if you're curious and if you would like to test it yourself already knowing that the operating system is not stable, you can already test the beta, beta version of Windows 11. Uhh, no, actually it’s not beta, it's Preview, its Preview.

(Mario) Yeah, well, it’s a Preview, which is basically a beta.

(Tanja) Yes.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Tanja) Um, on… If you are subscribed to the Windows Insider program, then you can test it. However, since there will be even another update in Windows 10, I would suggest maybe to wait for it a bit and see what the accessibility will be implemented there.

(Mario) Yeah, the thing about the the whole updating procedure of Windows 11, the things that you will not be able to update unless you have your hardware as well. So right now, right now, and but this might change, but right now they're saying that if you have hardware, which is no longer than five years old, you will be able to update, but if you have anything that's more than five years old, you will not be able to update with Windows 11. And you will be absolutely fine to use Windows 10, because currently the support for Windows 10 is until 2025, so you are absolutely safe to use the same hardware for the next four years. That’s, that's OK. And what we know so far is that all the Screen readers will be updated to the some small features, even though they work more or less even now, like, let's say 95% fine with Windows 11, um, from what I was able to see from some podcasts from the other people which were demonstrating how current beta works. Pawel, What do you think about it?

(Pawel) What I found especially exciting in the accessibility announcement, and it's a pity it didn't come straight away, but after some time; but seeing that Microsoft normally does a really good job at promoting accessibility

(Mario) Yeah

(Pawel) and disability awareness, I just hope it was, let's say, unfortunate accident; they announced that quite likely, uh, with the new version of WSL2, which is the Linux overlay for Windows, or like a sort of Linux you can run inside Windows, you will be able to access the graphical interface applications and they said it also should work with Screen readers, so it means that at least with Narrator and I hope they will expose the API so that other screen readers can support it too,

(Mario) Yeah

(Pawel) you should be able to run and and access Linux apps on Windows. Aaand…

(Mario) Hmm, which might be interesting for some apps, yeah.

(Pawel) Yeah, from what I heard, apparently some mathematics, especially in sciences and IT and mathematics studies, there are some apps that are really well accessible under Linux and you might need them and they’re really optimal…

(Mario) Mhm…

(Pawel) which you can’t find on the Windows. But, uhh… There is also pidgin, for example, the messaging app that works better under Linux than it does on the Windows and some other things, I guess, but also one of the features that will be there on Windows 11 is the ability to run Android apps natively. They mentioned…

(Mario) Yeah, yeah, that's, kind of, uh, oh, so so because I thought when they were mentioning that you will be able to run the native Android apps, I thought that you will be able to do that from the Google Play Store.

(Mario) Yes.

(Mario) which is not the case even… eventually.

(Pawel) Mhm. Nah, there is just the Amazon Store mentioned at the moment.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Pawel) and I think I saw some articles about sideloading and I guess even if it's not official, somebody will find a way to sideload things from APK files sooner or later.

(Mario) True, even though the Android is  also changing in that, uh, in that regard from August, like…

(Pawel) Mhm.

(Mario) Uh, Google is going to kind of close, shut down these APK files as we know it, so we will see how it will be updated.

(Pawel) Yeah, but well, in the end, some Android apps will be available there on Windows 10 and in the accessibility announcement, they also said that they can't really say much at the moment because it's still being discussed, finalised and whatnot, but the hint to my, in my opinion, was there that they might be also making them accessible for at least Narrator, which, if it's true, would mean that inside one machine with one operating system, you should be able to accessibly run apps for three operating systems.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Pawel) And this is quite unique and I can imagine myself using some of the Android apps or Linux apps regularly on the Windows; and I'm quite looking forward to see what comes out of this, because then, yeah, it would make it so much… our horizon so much wider because well, as we know, as a blind person, the more systems and screen reader combinations you have, the more things you can access sadly, so hopefully...

(Mario) Sure, yeah… I mean, surely you will be able, for example, to load the VoiceView from the Amazon store, which is a forked TalkBack.

(Pawel) Mm hmm.

(Mario) And from there, you would be able to, well, install anything else that's available on the, uh, Amazon store.

(Pawel) Yeah. So, yeah, that means it's a it's a multisystem that we are probably getting and I'm quite excited about this.

(Mario) Aa, that's why I have my spare machine. I realise now, OK. [laughter]

(Pawel) Yeeah, mm hmm… For all the dirty experiments that might go wrong

(Mario) Yeah, yeah…

(Tanja) [laughs]

(Mario) But if it goes wrong on the other machine, it's not that tragical, like…

(Pawel) Exactly! [laughter]

(Mario) as if you would have just one machine and then everything can go wrong, as I have seen it in the past. Yeah.

(Pawel) mhm. so it's old, but not older than five years. That's good.

(Mario) No, no. My computer is from 2017, the older one, so it's still legitimate.

(Pawel) Hmm.

(Tanja) Well, good, then you will keep us updated in in the future episodes.

(Mario) Yeah, yeah, we can even do some demos in the future.

(Tanja) Yes, yes, yes, of course.


NVDA 2021.1 Released


Then we have the new release of NVDA 2021.1. There are there are many updates, but we have to warn the listeners that actually many addons will not be compatible from the very start. Either you need to update the addon or you have to wait, uh, that a certain addon will support the new version of NVDA.

(Mario) Yeah, keep in mind that some of them will not get updated. That's also, uh, what I have seen on Twitter.

(Tanja) Yes.

(Mario) So if you depend on such addons, it's up to you to decide whether you wish to update or not.

(Tanja) Yes, absolutely, but, well, sometimes you need to update. All the changes and bug fixes can be, uh, read on the NVDA website, so what is new for that specific release. What I find very practical, maybe it's not really the main change, but what I find practical is that you can close now Speech Viewer with alt+F4, so you don’t have to go in Tools and then toggle it there to turn it off; and there are many, many updates regarding browsers and the Office Outlook, uhh, so… I don’t know.

(Mario) And Excel especially also. So…

(Tanja) Yes, and Excel too.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Tanja) Actually, I updated my NVDA today, also because addon reasons, so I didn't have really much time to experiment a lot in NVDA. What about you, Pawel?

(Pawel) I have to make sure that I update all the stuff, but the good news that is there is that some of the addons don't really require many changes. Sometimes it's enough to just change the maximum version tested in the Manifest file, and some of the addons will run this way, for instance, the addon, the Clock addon, many people liked it and many people…

(Mario) Yeah, yeah.

(Pawel) saw that there was no update and well, how should we go on if the NVDA is there but the addon has no updates?; but it turns out if you modify the manifest to say, well, the last version tested with 2020 even 4… 2021.4

(Mario) Yeah, yeah.

(Pawel) or some higher version, it will just let you go, so you can see if maybe the addon that you're missing can work with this trick.

(Mario) Aach…, okay…

(Pawel) but of course…

(Tanja) Can it crash NVDA?

(Pawel) Uhh…

(Tanja) if it doesn't work?

(Pawel) I don't think so. It will just, I think, it will just say that some function is missing. Maybe the addon will just go disabled.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Tanja) Hmm. OK.

(Pawel) It will not load. It will not load or perform something but. Yeah, you can experiment on some portable copy if you're worried about this, for instance.

(Mario) Yeah.

(Pawel) but that's a policy change they made apparently, that now every first version of the year will be the version in which some major python changes will be made and this means that every year that the addons will require an update to function, which is a change that OK, I understand on one side that they need to make the updates, on the other hand, we will see how many developers actually care about their addons in this way because….

(Mario) That's true, that's true. I have I've seen also a bunch of developers who were very angry about it.

(Pawel) Mm hmm.

(Mario) On Twitter. So, yeah, we will see. For my personal situation is that I have maybe three addons which are not working for the moment, but I’ll try that trick which you suggested later, so maybe they might they might be working. The only one which I really miss is the Switchsynth addon, which I really like, and I have seen Tyler Spivey shouting on Twitter that [in a shouting voice] he will not update his addons because this whole procedure is broken and blah, blah, blah. I don't I don't know. I'm not currently developing so can’t say much about it, but yeah, that's that's the one of the addons which I would like to see updated, because eventually if you are using multiple languages and multiple synths and you depend on that, it’s… it can be very good, because yeah…

(Pawel) You can't possibly replace this with profiles, right?

(Mario) No, no, no. That's that's a different thing.

(Tanja) Well,  talking about addons, there is also an addon to make sure that the sound is not muted when you’re starting NVDA, so the addon is called NVDA Unmute and you can find it on the repository of NVDA addons, and I think for us sometimes it can be really, really important that, um, the sound doesn't go away, is not off or there is the problem with the soundcards, so NVDA with this addon checks if the sound comes from the card and so makes sure that you can hear NVDA.

(Mario) Yeah, yeah, I absolutely agree. In some situations this can be a lifesaver, so. It seems like, for example, right now, as we're recording the podcast and stuff, we are dealing with multiple soundcards and it can happen that sometimes your NVDA goes accidentally to the other soundcard where you don't want to and stuff like that; and with this NVDA Unmute addon, you can specify in its settings which soundcard will be your default one and where the speech will go, so basically you can then every time when you restart NVDA, to revert back to your soundcard and it will check if it's muted, it will unmute it and you are, let's say ,you're safe to go. I mean, of course, there are situations where something else might go wrong, but this might solve a bunch of problems.

(Tanja) Mhm.

(Mario) So yeah, it’s good to have it.

(Tanja) Absolutely, even though today is much easier than some time ago, because today we have BeMyEyes even if you're stuck,

(Mario) Mhm. Yeah, yeah, sure.

(Tanja) You can call Microsoft if if

(Mario) if your connection is stable enough.

(Tanja) Exactly. But…

(Pawel) That might be a problem, yes.

(Tanja) Well, you have much more possibilities than before.

(Mario) But it's true, yeah.

(Tanja) Yes.

(Pawel) yeah. Speaking of addons, I actually recommend everyone to sometimes go on Github and, even, the Github is this one-stop-shop for source code of different things and people sharing open source projects. And if you type NVDA in the search there, you will find some addons that are being worked on or that are not really ready to be published in… or are not going to be published in the official on the official website yet, and you can see what people are working on; and it's quite fascinating to see what addons are being worked on and we don't even know about this, like one that I find very useful is called Volume Adjustment,

(Tanja) Mhm.

(Pawel) and it's an addon where you can, using specific shortcuts, control the volume of each app that is currently running on your computer and also each soundcard, and also you can switch between different soundcards with your NVDA also with a shortcut.

(Mario) Mhm.

(Pawel) And I find it really useful like, I host radio shows sometimes and it's important for me to switch NVDA to another soundcard so I can keep control of the of the music or my my guests online if I do remote interviews.

(Mario) Sure

(Pawel) And NVDA is on the one soundcard, my spare soundcard, and everything else that goes on the radio is on the main soundcard, and then I have a quick overview: OK, this is too loud, this is too quiet, umm, NVDA is going through the wrong, wrong soundcard, I can quickly switch it, I don't have to go through all the settings and this really makes work much easier. But it's not just that. Actually, there are a lot of other addons that you can find. Not all of them are in English, sadly, but if you have some translation software, you can manage this. For instance, I recently found a nice Spanish addon, which lets you quickly preview multimedia files on your system, so if you're in the Windows Explorer and you have highlighted some song or recording, you can quickly press some shortcut key and it will start playing it for you and you can rewind, skip backwards, forwards. You can see how much time is left on this file; so for quickly looking through huge libraries of sound effects, or if you want to quickly take a look at some recording, if it's the right volume and how long it is and so on, it it's very practical. And some people complain that NVDA is turning into some kind of all-purpose software and not screen reader, but I think normally you would probably download a hundred different small exe files with different tools and programmes that you would run to accomplish the same tasks and, and why do that If you can integrate this in NVDA addons and you can have one program even on your pendrive and just copy it over to another machine and you have all the tools there, or you can run it on some guest machine that you're fixing or doing something on temporarily and you can still use your little tools there; and what you can find on Github is often examples of such little tools. So you can take a look there or you can take a look at some of the community webpages of NVDA in different languages. There is the French one, the Italian one, the Spanish one, the Russian one, and you will also find some addons that are not there on the official website.

(Mario) Sure, yeah.

(Pawel) and some of them are quite interesting, I must say.

(Mario) Yeah. For example, like the one that this French guy is developing for the Audacity.

(Pawel) Mm hmm.

(Mario) It's it's actually it has its own auto-update feature as well.

(Pawel) Yeah. The same person actually makes a huge addon, it's called NVDA Extension Global, which is, like, uh,  again a Swiss Army knife for different things that NVDA doesn't have. so, for example, you have very extended list of elements on the website, like, NVDA by default offers you, I don’t know, headings, links, landmarks and something else, and there you have like twenty different elements and you can just choose one and you can navigate you can see this on the list and just pick one.

(Mario) Aach…

(Pawel) or you have the ins+F11 systraylist integrated, there is something with how different keys on the keyboard are pronounced. You can modify this and many more features that you can just implement with one single addon and you can switch each of them on and off individually, so it's quite interesting concept.

(Tanja) Great suggestion, Pawel. Thank you.

(Mario) Yes.




(Tanja) OK, then after NVDA, let's focus on another open source TTS  that is currently under development for different languages and Mario you have more information about that.

(Mario) Yeah, actually, it's not totally new. It exists for a while now, I would say for almost ten years. It is called the RHVoice and originally it was developed for Russia, for Russian languages, but very shortly it, as it’s open source, it started catching up the other languages because it's able to integrate different voice files recorded; so I remember the first time I used it long time ago, maybe 2012, 2013 and it… at that time it was using just like I, I was I was using English voices and I think it, yeah, it could speak Russian; and I really liked what it… how it sounded, but right now, they started developing it for the other platforms, it's not only available as the NVDA addon, you can install it as the SAPI5 under Windows, so if you want to convert your text to speech books, you can do that because there are those free converters for the text to audio files; and you can also install it under Linux, so it's available for for Linux and there is also a version which runs quite well under Android as well, so you can use… install all of the voices. Now they are supporting eight languages, and what I found for the moment is that they developed a new voice for Macedonian language, actually, it's North Macedonia now, technically speaking, uh, and I was very much surprised by the quality of the voice so… And then I decided to write to developers to see what's going on and how is it possible to integrate it to the other languages, and I got the answer that they're right now working with a third party company called Louder Pages, and they specialised in producing the open source voice libraries for different languages, so if you want to get in touch, you have to write to them if you want to have it localised for your language. What I Immediately thought about was giving suggestion to hlynur so that people from Iceland, as they're finishing their project, with the… with their open source Icelandic library, they could get in touch with people from RHVoice so that at the end they get a finalised product quite soon, I would say, so, yeah, it's it's it's really it's really good. The last updates that they produced also for Android are working much better than the previous version which I had, so, yeah, there there are some some people who are doing nice, nice open source stuff and it's, you know, those new voices, they can show that not only the stuff that is open source sounds like trash, it can sound good, so…

(Tanja) Actually, I wanted to ask you, what's the sound of these voices?



(Alan, one of the English voices) Voice Alan. RHVoice is a free and open source speech synthesizer. RHVoice uses statistical parametric synthesis. It relies on existing open source speech technologies (mainly HTS and related software). Voices are built from recordings of natural speech. They have small footprints, because only statistical models are stored on users' computers. And though the voices lack the naturalness of the synthesizers which generate speech by combining segments of the recordings themselves, they are still very intelligible and resemble the speakers who recorded the source material.

[Voice BDL???] Voice BDL??? RHVoice is a free and open source speech synthesizer. RHVoice uses statistical parametric synthesis. It relies on existing open source speech technologies (mainly HTS and related software). Voices are built from recordings of natural speech. They have small footprints, because only statistical models are stored on users' computers. And though the voices lack the naturalness of the synthesizers which generate speech by combining segments of the recordings themselves, they are still very intelligible and resemble the speakers who recorded the source material.

[Voice CLB???] Voice CLB???. RHVoice is a free and open source speech synthesizer. RHVoice uses statistical parametric synthesis. It relies on existing open source speech technologies (mainly HTS and related software). Voices are built from recordings of natural speech. They have small footprints, because only statistical models are stored on users' computers. And though the voices lack the naturalness of the synthesizers which generate speech by combining segments of the recordings themselves, they are still very intelligible and resemble the speakers who recorded the source material.

[Voice AVGEN???] Voice AFGEN??? RHVoice is a free and open source speech synthesizer. RHVoice uses statistical parametric synthesis. It relies on existing open source speech technologies (mainly HTS and related software). Voices are built from recordings of natural speech. They have small footprints, because only statistical models are stored on users' computers. And though the voices lack the naturalness of the synthesizers which generate speech by combining segments of the recordings themselves, they are still very intelligible and resemble the speakers who recorded the source material.

[Voice SLT??/] Voice SLT??? RHVoice is a free and open source speech synthesizer. RHVoice uses statistical parametric synthesis. It relies on existing open source speech technologies (mainly HTS and related software). Voices are built from recordings of natural speech. They have small footprints, because only statistical models are stored on users' computers. And though the voices lack the naturalness of the synthesizers which generate speech by combining segments of the recordings themselves, they are still very intelligible and resemble the speakers who recorded the source material.

[Voice Kiko] A text in Macedonian???


(Mario) There’s…??? so, for example, uhmm, if you choose English language, there are like three or four voices available right now and you can see that some of them were developed like, I don’t know,  fifteen years ago and some of them were developed relatively recently; so those that were relatively, relatively recently developed sound really good, and I'm just going back to the North Macedonian voice, which really sounds good. I was, I was very much surprised.

(Pawel) How does the procedure for creating your own language and voice look like now? I remember from some years ago that you had to auto-generate random sentences from the Wikipedia of your language, so that there is a good enough sample of text to read for the speaker. You had to ask a speaker who preferably would have a good voice and some voiceover skills already, recording audio books or voice acting or something of that sort; and this person would read all the sentences, preferably in studio conditions. Is it still the same procedure?

(Mario) Uhh, I cannot tell you anything else right now as I just exchanged a few emails with them and we didn't come to this point so I.

(Pawel) Mmhm.

(Mario) I cannot tell you. What what I can tell you is that this company told me that right now they are looking for some kind of sponsorship so that the final product can be made an open source, but the people who will work on the product will be paid, which is understandable completely. On the other hand, if you have a sponsorship for somebody, you can see that the quality of the product will be will be better and you'll be higher, and that's eventually the thing which we can see because the same company is developing a few more voices they have in the pipeline, the other voice which they have is a Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, and it also sounds really good. I mean, not I'm not speaking Portuguese, but from what I was able to understand for the voice quality, just itself, it really sounded good; and I saw that they have Albanian in the pipeline and who knows what what other languages. Right now, we are… I'm… I’m talking to them to see which one might be like transitional thing, which… because I would like to have it also developed for Croatian, so right now we are talking about possible, like, a quick fix to adjust this North Macedonian voice to learn how to pronounce Croatian with a few different changes for the consonants which we have and maybe some external??? things, because eventually right now, if you let it read Croatian with the Macedonian voice, it really sounds very usable, so I would say that if we want to have some quick fix, it might be done in a few few weeks, but we'll see.

(Pawel) Well, good luck with that. We'll have to see what can be done about Polish. We have plenty of voices, that's true, but seeing that all these companies, the big companies that used to offer really good voices, they go out of business, (by the way, Acapela is abandoning their Infovox product), so I think the SAPI voices will be gone soon and more of more of the market moving towards this cloud-based AI voices

(Mario) Mhm.

(Pawel) which are not really suited well… suited well for Screen reading use, it would be good to have some open source alternative just for this purpose and I’m …

(Mario) I agree, I agree, yes.

(Pawel) looking quite worried at the future because it seems like TTS has become mainstream and you would think it's a good thing for us because more people are aware, but in the end, everybody is thinking of company-wide use of replacing human work for the PBX’es and announcements and whatnot with voices; but Screen reading use is somehow fading away and you see fewer and fewer products targeting that case, use-case.

(Mario) Yeah, yeah, uhh, one of the things which I really found good about those  RHVoices is the fact that for the moment, and I think that it's their plan is that they will not integrate any kind of dictionaries into it, so which is the problem with the other companies such as Vocalizer.

(Pawel) Mhm.

(Mario) So what's really happening is that, if you use RHVoice, you will get the content displayed on the screen as it is, I mean, it will be spoken as it is visually and displayed on the screen, which personally I found very important for me.

(Pawel) Yes, I agree, because even Espeak is doing some minimal amount of guesswork and it has some rules implemented to make it sound more language-agnostic and these attempts don't really work, and you hear really mangled names of music bands sometimes or words that are even proper words in your language but because there is some kind of rule for a particular combination of characters…

(Mario) Yeah, yeah.

(Pawel) it's mispronounced, and I don't think it should be the standard for TTS voices to do that.

(Tanja) Absolutely agree.




[The sounds of the sea in the background]

(Tanja) And OK, actually, this leads us to the end of this episode. I wish you a very nice summer break. I hope you enjoy the holidays. Well-deserved holidays, and some of us will be able to travel finally after a long, long, long period.

(Mario) Yuuuu!

(Tanja) so enjoy sun, enjoy the beach and talk to you in six weeks after summer. Yes.

(Mario) Yeah, see you in September.

(Tanja) See you in  September. Yes.

(Pawel) See you,  hear you, meet you.

(Tanja) Bye!

(Pawel) Bye!

(Mario) Bye!






Thank you for listening the EBU Access Cast.

If you want to contact us you can send us an e-mail to or find us on Twitter @EbuAccessCast.