Balabolka – Speaking with Two Voices

So far we’ve covered the basics of Balabloka.  Let’s look at some of the extra things that can be done with Balabolka.

Balabolka Logo
Balabolka Logo

The speech engine for Balabolka relies on an API (Application Program Interface) built into the Windows Operating System.  The most current Speech API is SAPI 5.  SAPI4 and its voices could be installed on the computer but the voices are not as high quality.

Microsoft David and Microsoft Zira are the default US English voices in Windows 10.  Windows 7 had Microsoft Anna 64 bit. There are other voices which can be installed, some free and some purchased.  The bit rate, either 32 or 64 bit needs to be matched with the operating system bit rate.  Otherwise, the 64-bit programs might not be able to access 32bit voice.

The voice in Balabolka can be changed as we’ve seen, by going to the Menu option for Voice, selecting voice and selecting from the list of recognized voices.  This will change the speaking voice.  There is a way to change the voice and its properties for selected lines.  You can alternate between male and female voices.

Because SAPI5 allows the use of XML tags, there are a number of things we can change including a different voice, Volume, Rate, Pitch, Emph, and Spell.

For example the XML tag to change the voice is <voice required=”Name = voice_name“>.  The placeholder, voice_name, is replaced by the full name of the voice, such as Microsoft David Desktop.  The completed tag is placed before the line you want the voice to speak.  The full tag will look like this:

<Voice Required =”Name =  Microsoft David Desktop”>

The video below shows how this will work.

Have fun.

BALABOLKA – Low Vision Aids

There is research showing that using color patterns other than the traditional black font and white background can help not only low vision readers but those with dyslexia.

Text Customization for Readers with Dyslexia

Balabolka has a very simple dialog box to change the background color, the font type and color, the selected color and the highlighted color.

The short video below, show how to use these options.

 

It has been my experience, working with students with dyslexia and those with low vision, that the color choices are best left to the person using the program.