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ITsVISTA KB-Link: KB2534466

How to configure and use Text-to-Speech in Windows XP and in Windows Vista

Text-to-Speech (TTS) capabilities for a computer refers to
the ability to play back text in a spoken voice. This article describes how to
configure and use text-to-speech in Windows XP and in Windows Vista.

TTS is the ability
of the operating system to play back printed text as spoken words. An internal
driver, called a TTS engine, recognizes the text and using a synthesized voice
chosen from several pre-generated voices, speaks the written text. A TTS engine
is installed with the operating system. Additional engines are also available
through third-party manufacturers. These engines often use a certain jargon or
vocabulary; for example, a vocabulary specializing in medical or legal
terminology. They can also use different voices allowing for regional accents
such as British English, or speak a different language altogether such as
German, French, or Russian.

The Text-to-Speech tab in the Speech tool in Control Panel presents the options for each TTS engine.
See the individual Help topics for specific help. In addition to the general
options, each engine can have a different set of specific features. For that
reason, not all the resulting dialog boxes will look the same. It is possible
that no special features have been included and some of the properties buttons
will not have an associated dialog box.

Setting Up Your Hardware

NOTE: This article assumes that you use Classic View in Control Panel.
To change views, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, click Switch to Classic
    View
    or Switch to Category View.

Set Up Speakers

Speakers vary greatly in design and purpose. Consult the speaker
manual for hardware and software specifics. However, most models can be
installed in a similar fashion.

To set up speakers, follow these
steps:

  1. Locate the sound connections and connect the speaker jack
    to the computer. Most computers use an internal sound card and often the
    connections are in the back of the computer. These are a series of connections
    the same size and diameter as the speaker jack. In many cases there are two
    sound out connections:

    • One will be labeled as a line-out connection. Most
      speakers that require a separate power supply (such as an electrical (AC)
      adapter or batteries) should use this connection. It is also used to export
      amplified sound to recording devices including recordable CDs and tape cassette
      systems.
    • The other connection is for the non-powered speakers.
      Because the signal is boosted by the computer, powered speakers may be damaged
      if connected.
  2. Plug the speaker into the proper connection.
  3. To test the connection, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
    2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Preview Voice to hear the currently selected voice. The text is spoken and the
      words are highlighted as they are spoken. If the speakers are working properly,
      you will hear the spoken words.

    If you do not hear sound after you connect the speakers,
    see the “Possible Text-to-Speech Problems” section of this article for
    troubleshooting procedures.

Select an Audio Output Device

To select an audio output device, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Audio Output.
  3. Select either Use preferred audio output
    device
    or Use this audio output device.

    • Use preferred audio device sets the
      output device as the default for the system. Select this option if you want to
      use the same output device for speech as all other sound for the system. It is
      also the default option for Speech properties. Often, computers will have only
      one output device, such as a pair of speakers. The default device is designated
      in the appropriate sounds or multimedia properties in Control Panel for each
      operating system. Additional information for the specific panel is available
      through the associated Help files.
    • Use this audio output device allows
      you to select another device for speech programs only. The drop-down list is
      active if other devices are available. In this drop-down list, select the
      device that you want. This does not change the default device for other audio
      programs. For example, you may want all speech output to go through your
      headset rather than the speakers.

Set Audio Output Device Options

By default, this option is disabled. However, other speech
engines may include advanced properties for audio line out options. If so, Audio Output will be available. Follow instructions on the screen or those
documented separately for the specific engine.

To set up audio
output device options, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Audio Output.
  3. Follow the instructions presented on the screen.

Configure Text-to-Speech Options

Determine the Selected TTS Voice or Engine

To determine the selected Text-to-Speech voice, follow these
steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.

    On the Text-to-Speech tab, the displayed name in the Voice selection
    drop-down list is the currently active voice.

  2. Click Preview Voice to hear the active voice. The text is spoken and the words are
    highlighted as they are spoken.

Preview TTS Voice

To preview the Text-to-Speech voice, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.

    On the Text-to-Speech tab, the displayed name in the Voice selection
    drop-down list is the active voice.

  2. Click Preview Voice to hear the currently selected voice. The text is spoken and the
    words are highlighted as they are spoken.
  3. During playback, Preview Voice will change to Stop. Click Stop to interrupt the voice playback.

NOTE:You can change the text to be read by the Preview Voice by highlighting the text and typing in new text. These changes
are not permanent and when you reopen Speech properties or select a different voice, the text will reset to
the default.

Change the TTS Voice or Engine

To change the Text-to-Speech voice or engine, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, the name displayed in the Voice selection drop-down list is the active voice.
  3. Click the active voice inside the drop-down list, or use
    the arrow to display a list of available voices.
  4. Click a new voice to select it.

    The newly
    selected voice speaks the text in Preview Voice box.

  5. Click OK or Apply to accept the new voice.

Notes:

  • A Text-to-Speech voice is closely associated with a
    particular speech engine. It may not be clear from the displayed name which
    language a voice is using. After selecting a speech engine or voice, test the
    voice and language by clicking Preview Voice.
  • The language or voices supported by a speech engine may not
    be obvious from the engine’s displayed name. Refer to the specific user’s guide
    for detailed information about the engine. This includes not only the language
    supported, but also the lexicon purpose. The lexicon purpose indicates whether
    it is a general grammar or jargon specific to a profession such as legal or
    medical.
  • Microsoft does not provide additional speech engines
    (voices), but a number of third-party products are available that support the
    new Microsoft Speech API. For information on these products, visit the
    following Microsoft Web site:http://www.microsoft.com/speech/evaluation/thirdparty/engines.mspx

Change TTS Voice Rate

To change the Text-to-Speech voice rate, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. Select the Text-to-Speech tab.
  3. Move the Voice speed slider to change the
    rate of the Text-to-Speech voice. By default, it is set to Normal.
  4. Click Preview Voice to hear the currently selected voice at the new rate. The text is
    spoken and the words are highlighted as they are spoken.

To Change the Text-to-Speech Volume

To adjust the volume output levels, follow the procedure below.
Note that not all devices support this option in the same way. Some devices
will not support volume control and the Volume button will be unavailable. Other devices may use their own
display. In those cases, follow the instructions presented on the screen or
documented separately with the engine.

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Audio Output, and then click Volume.
  3. A volume control mixer will be displayed. Adjust the
    appropriate device to the required level.

Using Text-to-Speech with Narrator

Narrator is a Text-to-Speech utility for users who are blind or
have impaired vision. Narrator reads what is displayed on your screen: the
contents of the active window, menu options, or the text that you
type.

Narrator is designed to work with the Notepad, WordPad, Control
Panel programs, Microsoft Internet Explorer, the Windows desktop, and Windows
Setup. Narrator may not read words aloud correctly in other programs.

Narrator has a number of options that allow you to customize the way screen
elements are read.

  • You can have new windows, menus, or shortcut menus read
    aloud when they are displayed.
  • You can have typed characters read aloud.
  • You can have the mouse pointer follow the active item on
    the screen.
  • You can adjust the speed, volume, or pitch of the voice.

The accessibility tools included with Windows are intended to
provide a minimum level of functionality for users with special needs. Most
users with disabilities will need utility programs with more advanced
functionality for daily use.

Narrator is not available for all
languages and is only supported on the English version of Windows
XP and Windows Vista.

To Have Narrator Announce Events on the Screen

  1. Start Narrator by using one of the following methods:

    • Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to Accessibility, and then click Narrator.

      -or-

    • Press CTRL+ESC, press R, type
      narrator, and then press ENTER.
  2. In the Narrator dialog box, select the Announce events on screen
    check box.

To Have Narrator Read Typed Keys Aloud

  1. Press CTRL+ESC, press R, type
    narrator, and then press ENTER.
  2. Select the Read typed characters check
    box.

To Have the Mouse Pointer Move to Active Items When You Use Narrator

  1. Press CTRL+ESC, press R, type
    narrator, and then press ENTER.
  2. Select the Move mouse pointer to the active
    item
    check box.

Navigating with the Keyboard and Narrator

Reading options

  • To read an entire window, click the window and then press
    CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR.
  • To get information about the current item, press
    CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER.
  • To get a more detailed description of an item, press
    CTRL+SHIFT+INSERT.
  • To read the title bar of a window, press ALT+HOME.
  • To read the status bar of a window, press ALT+END.
  • To read the contents of an edit field, press
    CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER, or use the arrow keys.
  • To silence the speech, press CTRL.

Keyboard Options

  • To switch to another program, press ALT+TAB.
  • To switch to the next button or tool, press TAB. To go
    back, press SHIFT+TAB.
  • To select an item from a drop-down list, use the arrow
    keys.
  • To select a check box or option button, press SPACEBAR.
  • To open Utility Manager, press the Windows logo key+U.

To Set Narrator Voice Options

  1. Press CTRL+ESC, press R, type
    narrator, and then press ENTER. Click Voice.
  2. In the Voice Settings dialog box, select the voice options that you want to change:
    • To change the speed of the voice, click a number in the
      Speed box.
    • To change the volume of the voice, click a number in
      the Volume box.
    • To change the pitch of the voice, click a number in the
      Pitch box.

    Note: When you change voice settings, it may take from a few seconds
    to a minute before the new settings take effect.

To Start Narrator Minimized

You may find it useful to run Narrator minimized (after you have
set the options in Narrator), because you do not need to see the Narrator dialog box when Narrator is running.

  1. Press CTRL+ESC, press R, type
    narrator, and then press ENTER.
  2. Select the Start Narrator minimized check
    box.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Text-to-Speech

To determine if Text-to-Speech is working properly, use the
following tests.

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Speech.
  2. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Preview Voice. The text in Preview Voice should be spoken audibly with each word highlighted in turn. If
    so, TTS and the speakers are working. If you cannot hear the Preview Voice and
    see words highlighted as they are spoken, see “Possible Text-to-Speech
    Problems” section of this article for troubleshooting solutions.

Possible Text-to-Speech Problems

If you do not hear speech after testing the system, consider the
following:

  1. The speaker volume is not turned up or is muted. Some
    speakers have external controls for volume and muting. Make sure the volume is
    turned up sufficiently or that muting is off.
  2. The speakers may not be selected as the current output
    device. On the Text-to-Speech tab, click Audio Output to make sure that the speakers are selected.
  3. The speakers might not be connected properly. Consult the
    speaker hardware documentation for additional information. Make certain that
    the sound card for the computer is also properly seated and installed, and that
    the correct drivers are available. See “Set Up Speakers” for additional
    connection information.
  4. The Text-to-Speech engine may be corrupted. To test for
    corruption, switch to another engine. See the “Changing the TTS voice or
    engine” section of this article. If another engine is working properly,
    reinstall the specific engine from the original source. If no engine is working
    properly, reinstall the speech engine from the original source or CD.

For more information on this issue, including potential causes, workarounds, and resolutions, see: Microsoft KB Article KB2534466.

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