SpeechSynthesis

A Browser-Based, Open Source Tool for Alternative Communication

Have you ever lost your voice? How did you handle that? Perhaps you carried a notebook and pen to scribble notes. Or jotted quick texts on your phone.

Have you ever traveled somewhere that you didn't speak or understand the language everyone around you was speaking? How did you order food, or buy a train ticket? Perhaps you used a translation phrasebook, or Google translate. Perhaps you relied mostly on physical gestures.

All of these solutions are examples of communication methods — tools and strategies — that you may have used before to solve everyday communicative challenges. The preceding examples are temporary solutions to temporary challenges. Your laryngitis cleared up. You returned home, where accomplishing daily tasks in your native tongue is almost effortless. Now imagine that these situational obstacles were somehow permanent.

The Narrative Browser Using Articulate.js

Many sites with lots of written content employ specially crafted print style sheets. That way, a user can print out the relevant content without wasting paper on navigation, ads, or anything else not germane.

Articulate.js, a jQuery plugin, is what I consider the narrative equivalent. With as little as one line of code, it enables developers to create links that allow users to click, sit back, and listen to the browser read aloud the important content of a web page. In some ways, it can turn a thoughtful essay or article into a mini podcast. And because it uses built-in JavaScript functionality, no browser extensions or other system software is needed.

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