We are proud and excited to announce that we have been and are the first astrology-related web site to feature real text-to-speech (TTS) technology!
This means that our pages can be 'read by a voice' automatically.
There is even more, the functionality of the feature also increases the accessibility of our web site.
Virtually anyone can benefit from the functionality, not only the ones who are visually impaired because there are a number of functions that can be used by busy people such as the ability to select an article or text and have it read to you whilst doing something else.
On top of the right navigation bar you can find a title reading 'Listen To This Page'. Below the title there is a RokTalk 'show toolbar' button (see the purple arrow on the left image).
The RokTalk 'show toolbar' button can be clicked to hide or show the RokTalk toolbar and start the text-to-speech functionality.
Use the button like a toggle; repeatedly clicking the button will show-hide-show-hide-show-... the toolbar but you need the toolbar to be visible to make use of its features.
The RokTalk toolbar will always show up at the bottom of the page.
The RokTalk toolbar looks like this
From left to right, it has different buttons: MANUAL, AUTO, TRANSLATION, TEXT SIZE and HIGHLIGHT.
We will now explain how these buttons work.
The RokTalk MANUAL button has three options:
1. start (shown by the black triangle)
2. stop (shown by the black square) and
3. download (shown by the black down arrow)
Use the MANUAL button when you want to select a text or pragraph and have it read to you. You have to select the text first and then click on the 'start' button (the black triangle button).
This feature is the most convenient one if you want full control over what is read to you, especially if you have text or articles with lots of images, tables etc. that are more difficult to follow by automated readings.
By clicking on the download button (the down arrow), you can have the selected text converted to a MP3 file.
The AUTO button has two separate round buttons that can be clicked: ON and OFF.
When the OFF button is highlighted in yellow, this feature is OFF. This means that the automated text-to-speech function does not work and that you have to select a text and have to start having it read to you by using the start function on the previously mentioned MANUAL button.
If the AUTO button is ON, the text-to-speech function will start automatically from where your mouse pointer is situated.
Hover with your mouse over a paragraph, sentence or article to highlight the text to be read automatically.
If you have plain text without images or tables etc., this works great but if the text is more complicated, the text-to-speech functionality may go wrong.
In that case, highlight paragraph after paragraph to have the text read to you or change to MANUAL mode.
Also, if you are in AUTO mode, do know that RokTalk automatically starts reading all pages you browse.
This may be annoying. In that case, switch AUTO mode OFF.
The TRANSLATION button on the RokTalk toolbar can be used to translate an English word to another language (French in this case) and have the translated word read out to you.
Because this is an expensive option, it's not fully activated on our web site. Also, there is no option to select other languages (because of the additional cost).
The TEXT SIZE button changes the text size of an article for visually impaired people. The Plus button increases the font size, the Minus button decreases the text size.
The HIGHLIGHT button too can be used for visually impaired people who need more contrast between the text and the background to properly read an article.
You can select different color settings. To return to the original color settings, opt for the 'default' setting.
Text-to-speech (TTS) technology is still in its infancy.
The more expensive the tool, the better it works. Understand that we cannot afford to pay thousands and thousands of euro or USD every year for a text-to-speech feature that has no return on investment (ROI).
We have been looking very hard to find a technology that we can pay (as a free service to our visitors) and that has a human-like voice that can read the articles on our web site.
We found the golden mean by opting for the RokTalk toolbar that delivers more than text-to-speech technology by providing other web site accessibility features for visual impaired people, people who have reading disorders or people who are tired of constantly looking at computer screens...
The feature is not perfect though.
We recommend that you use the MANUAL capability and select the text you want to hear.
Another good option is to opt for the AUTO function and hover over every single paragraph or sentence you want to hear separately.
If you opt for the AUTO function and highlight the whole article, the TTS may block.
Instead, highlight paragraph after paragraph or sentence after sentence so that the speech technology can read all the paragraphs separately.
Unfortunately, the TTS has difficulties in knowng when a sentence stops when selecting large text blocks.
We are confident that the more the TTS technology matures, the better it will work.
Another disadvantage is that this TTS technology does not work with our Love Letters (monthly Newsletter).
IF we find a better TTS technology (price-wise also), we will jump ship and install the better one.
Anyway, we have investigated quite a lot of systems and have found the RokTalk Toolbar to deliver the best quality for its price.
As long as we don't find a better one, we'll stick with them!