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Writing for accessibility

posted 28 Mar 2014 07:57 by James Holgate

These pages tell how you can create more accessible documents that make it easier for readers with limited sight to understand. 

Accessible Digital Office Document (ADOD) Project

This project gives very specific information for particular programs on how to improve accessibility. The pages include screen shots and detailed step by step instructions for LibreOffice, OpenOffice and other programs. Link

Making information accessible for all

This project discusses accessibility principles and shows how structure can help improve accessibility of documents for blind and partially sighted readers. Link

WebAim: Alternative Text

This page discusses how alternative text for images can be made more useful for vision impaired readers by thinking of the needs of the reader or listener when authoring or presenting the document. Link

Install LibreOffice 4.2 in Ubuntu LTS

posted 8 Feb 2014 07:49 by James Holgate

The I Love Ubuntu blog has instructions for updating LibreOffice to the newest version on Ubuntu 12.04.LTS. Add a repository and update the system using command lines in the terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libreoffice

You will need to enter an administrator password to install the new program. The new version of the program includes new import filters and features a thumbnail view of recent documents on the start screen.


Multilingual Writer templates

posted 6 Feb 2014 01:10 by James Holgate

When you work with multilingual documents, the fastest and easiest way to set up new documents is to use templates in different languages. The attached archive includes templates in languages supported by SVOX Pico. These documents were created using LibreOffice on Ubuntu Linux.

  • A4-English (UK).ott
  • A4-French (France).ott
  • A4-German-(Germany).ott
  • A4-Italian-(Italy).ott
  • A4-Spanish (Spain).ott
  • Letter-English (Canada).ott
  • Letter-English (USA).ott
  • Letter-French (Canada).ott
  • Letter-Spanish (Mexico).ott

Google Code file listings depreciated

posted 1 Feb 2014 11:28 by James Holgate

As announced previously, Google has disabled the ability to update file download listings on all Google Code websites. As a consequence, the most current version of the Read extension will be posted on the Apache OpenOffice Extensions web site. The file listings on the Google code web site will not be updated as of February, 2014. For now, the source code is still hosted on Google Code.

LibreOffice 4.2 release

posted 31 Jan 2014 05:50 by James Holgate   [ updated 31 Jan 2014 05:56 ]

LibreOffice splash screen

LibreOffice 4.2.0 has been released. Read Text 0.8.10 works well with the new release. The new release features a remodelled start screen that includes thumbnail images of recently opened documents. The new version can open Apple Keynote files, albeit some formatting may not be preserved. In OSX, the default fonts for new text documents are Liberation Sans for titles, and Liberation Serif for paragraphs.

Read Chinese text in Windows 8

posted 23 Dec 2013 09:03 by James Holgate   [ updated 23 Dec 2013 11:37 ]


The newest version of the read text extension for Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice can read in Chinese using Windows 8 with a high-quality voice.  You can install the Chinese voice to Windows by installing a Chinese language pack. The Chinese language pack includes a simple method for entering Chinese text. Enter text phonetically using Pinyin. A list of options showing Chinese characters pops up. Type a number to select which characters to input from the list.

For best results with LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice for Windows, install the Chinese user interface (UI) resources. This will enable the fonts and other resources required to display Chinese text properly. With LibreOffice, you can install the Chinese language resources by running the LibreOffice installation program to add the feature. Select Chinese from language resources, then install. With Apache OpenOffice, download the Chinese user interface installation program and run the program.  

The read text extension works like it does in English. You can set a default voice with the Tools - Add-Ons - Read Selection dialog, or set up the script to select a voice depending on the language of the text selected. Only Chinese voices can read Chinese.

Dialog showing option for automatic language selection

Select some text, then click the speech button. If the text contains no Chinese, and you are using the automatic language selection option, the extension may read western text or numbers aloud in a western language. To read numbers in Chinese, either use Chinese number symbols, or include some Chinese text in the selection.

Problems? If you upgraded to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8, uninstall optional system language packs, then reinstall them. Try different voices out using the system voice control panel.

Read & Write Extension for Google Chrome

posted 7 Dec 2013 05:42 by James Holgate

Read & Write Extension for Google Chrome provides several tools for emerging readers including reading text aloud from a Google Drive document. Select text to read aloud, or position the cursor at the place to start reading. Click the Read & Write Toolbar button, then the Play button. The extension highlights the text as it reads the text aloud. The extension is free for Mac, Windows and ChromeBook devices in the Google Chrome Web store.

Using the Read & Write Chrome Extension

Windows 8.1 – Restoring language packs

posted 3 Nov 2013 00:05 by James Holgate   [ updated 3 Nov 2013 00:10 ]

Windows 8.1 language dialog - French is restored, but Chinese is not.

After you install the Windows 8.1 upgrade, you may find that Read Text extension has lost the ability to speak other languages, and that your keyboard only can use the default layout.

When you upgrade Windows 8.1 on a system that you added language packs to in Windows 8.0, the keyboard language button on the toolbar still looks the same as it did in Windows 8, but the keyboard can only use the default layout and the computer can only speak the default language aloud regardless of the language setting. It appears that the actual language resources from the old installation have been removed.

To re-enable the voice and keyboard in other languages, select Language Preferences from the Language menu, highlight the language you want to update, then click Remove

Click Add a language, then select a language and keyboard layout to restore it. It will take several minutes to download and install the language resources. If you are using an Asian language, the newest version of Read Text Extension is recommended.

OSX 10.9 - LibreOffice & Java

posted 1 Nov 2013 15:05 by James Holgate

Apple OSX 10.9 Mavericks works well with LibreOffice and with the Read Text Extension. Java is not included by default in the operating system update, even if you had java prior to updating. Prior to running LibreOffice, you can install java by opening a terminal window and typing:

java -version

If java is not installed, the system shows a dialog with a button to download and install java. Once you have installed, java you can use LibreOffice normally.

"How to Install Java in OS X Mavericks." How to Install Java in OS X Mavericks. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://osxdaily.com/2013/11/01/install-java-os-x-mavericks/>.

How does Nuance create Synthetic Speech?

posted 17 Sep 2013 20:33 by James Holgate   [ updated 15 Feb 2014 09:47 ]

The Verge recently published an article about the new voice of iOS. The article includes a fascinating video that includes a brief history and an overview of how Nuance currently develops voices for speech synthesis.

Verge Machine Language Video

 Anderson, Lessley. "Machine Language: How Siri Found Its Voice: Inside the Art of Making Computers Talk." The Verge. Vox Media, Inc, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/17/4596374/machine-language-how-siri-found-its-voice>.

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