TechDis Voices – a call for Beta tester

JISC TechDis logoAn opportunity for learners, support staff, technical teams and managers to get early access to free text-to-speech support.

What is text-to-speech (TTS) software?

TTS allows learners to listen to documents as they read them or save them as mp3s for later listening. A number of free text to speech tools exist but until now their popularity has been limited by the lack of a free high quality synthetic voice to go with them.

JISC TechDis, funded by BIS, have worked with Cereproc to develop two new voices – Jess and Jack – based on feedback by hundreds of learners across the sectors. These are free to publicly funded post-16 learning providers in England.

What does it involve?

The voices will be formally launched in May 2012 at the National Digital Conference. Prior to the launch we are looking for over 100 organisations and individuals to join us for a testing programme. This will give you and/or your learner’s early access to the voices, just in time for the all important summer revision period. In exchange for early access we’ll be asking you to:

  1. download the voice (if possible, on Tuesday 27th March at 1300 to load test the servers).
  2. test the voices with any text-to-speech tool of your choosing (e.g. free tools such as Balabolka or DSpeech).
  3. give us feedback via short online survey on the download process, clarity of the instructions and the voice itself (indicating any pronunciation improvements you’d like to see).

Want to be involved?

If you are interested in helping with the beta testing please register before 10am on Friday 23rd March by going to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TDvoices where all the information will be available.

Please do pass this information on to relevant colleagues and learners.

Find out more about accessibility support on the JISC TechDis website or conatct your RSC London adviser.