The Blind Leading The Sighted
I am a developer for Skype and one of my free Extras for Skype is called the “Speak and Translate Chats” which can be found in the Skype Extras of the Windows client by clicking on:
Tools -> Options -> Do More -> Get Extras
Then click on featured, which is located on the left, and click on the green arrow for “Speak and Translate Chats”, which is located on the right. This will install this Skype Extra which is free. Ah yes, I am sure you are saying, “Wait….first….what does it do?”
Well this Extra will speak your Skype chats, kind of like a chat answering machine, no need to be sitting right in front of your computer, maybe you are near your computer but watching TV or even if you are sitting right at your computer, maybe you are very busy, no need to read your Skype chat messages when they can be spoken. To you and in 10 different languages of your choice. Also, this Extra will translate your Skype chats using 38 different language pairs, from one language to another so that you can chat using Skype with others all around the world, and not even know the other Skype users language, neat huh?
Well, all during the design, as many people know (“This Extra was one of the very first Extras created for Skype”) my goal was to make the “Speak and Translate Chats” Extra Accessible, but I could not locate anyone to tell me if all my work was in vain. I published “Speak and Translate Chats” and crossed my fingers that I did a good Job.
Two weeks ago, I get a Skype chat message from someone, all I know about them is that their name is Justin and that he really really wants to try to install the “Speak and Translate Chats” Extra. My first thought is, wow, I thought my instructions for how to do this were clear. Little did I know after all this time, Justin is my first contact about Accessibility and this Extra, Justin is 16 and blind.
Justin, has family in Denmark, and he badly wanted to communicate with them, but he only knows English, and his family members there only know Dutch, so this is how this all started. This is where the interest of using some kind of language translator for Skype came in.
Well, much to my surprise, there is much more in general for a blind person to use any application. This includes Skype as well as my Extra..
It should be noted that there are many tools to make Skype more Accessible, but in this case I would like to focus on a some JAWS Scripts for Skype located here:
There are several tutorials on how to install these scripts as well located here:
I would hope that even sighted people can click on some of the .mp3 tutorials above just to see what effort goes into making any application accessible. I can assure you, it is much more than I ever imagined.
If you know someone who has a need to make Skype accessible please pass this information as well, it might really help others gain access to Skype that might not know how to make Skype accessible.
]]>After all this, Justin has gone above and beyond to show us all how to make my “Speak and Translate Chats” Extra also accessible, for which words are not enough to thank Justin for all his time in creating these instructions.
One thing I have learned for Example, is that JAWS which reads applications and their windows content does not do so if the window is minimized, this makes the “Speak and Translate Chat” Extra even more important for Skype accessibility because it will speak chat messages even when those windows are minimized as well.
Here are Justin’s instructions, please feel free to comment here if you have any questions about any of these accessibility instructions, and pass this on to others as well.
“Universal Translator and Chat Speaker” for Skype Also Known as the “Speak and Translate Chat” Extra for Skype and Jaws For Windows (Job Access With speech)
Jaws For Windows is a trademark of Freedomscientific
Check them out on the web at http://www.freedomscientific.com
Hello my name is Justin and, I am going to be explaining how to use the “Universal Translator and Chat Speaker” for Skype, better known as the “Speak and Translate Chats” Extra with Jaws for Windows Screen reading software.
Once you obtain a copy of the translator pluggin, extra for Skype 3.6, full latest version, you will be ready to start using it with your copy of Jaws For windows. I will refer to JFW for Windows as “JFW” from now on. So lets assume that you have downloaded the plugging and saved it to your hard drive, for example the desktop for easy access. First the install.
During the install JFW works quite well. When you press inter on the plug-in to install it, the Skype extras manager will pop up. The window when read with JFW will say something like, “Skype Extras manager”. If you route JFW to PC cursor and use your up and down arrows JFW will say are you sure you wish to install this plug-in. Press the yes button. When pressed, a typical install window should appear on the screen. The install from hear on out, should be pretty easy, just like a normal windows install.
OK let’s assume you now have the Skype universal translator installed. To launch it make sure Skype extras manager is running. Go to the tools menu by pressing the shortcut key alt plus T. Navigate to the Do More sub menu and find the option that says easy speak and translate chats. This may be a little different. After pressing inter a windows should appear, with the title “universal translator for Skype”
This is what we will call the main window for the translator. The main window has three tabs in it. The speak tab, the translate tab and, the help tab. First we will discuss how to navigate using JFW around the speak tab. When Skype Universal translator is first installed, all voices that are used for language translating should be installed as well. In this tab you will see a list box, “JFW does not say list box”.
You can use your normal cursor keys to move up and down through it. This box is where you will select your default speaking voice for your chats. Skype universal translator supports the sapi four interface. Let’s assume you have selected your voice. After selecting your voice there are three sliders that can be adjusted. The speaking rate, volume, and pitch. These sliders are not properly labeled in JFW so you will have to play around with them to suit your needs.
When you have multiple chat open at once, if tabbing before you get to the voice list box, you will see check boxes with the names of the chats. These boxes are no checked buy default. If one or more or these boxes are checked.
The chats with check marks by them will now be spoken. There is a button that will speak all chats, to find it, route your Jaws cursor to your PC cursor and find the line that has the text speak all chats. Hover over the speak portion of the text with your mouse cursor and left click it.
When you do so, all chat from no on will be spoken. Left clicking this button again will make all chats not be spoken unless you have them selected. When the button is set to all chats spoken, the check will not matter. Your default voice that you have selected should speak when the button is pressed and will tell you your status whether your chats will be spoken or not.
The next tab is the translate tab. This tab is the most important function of the translator. The first thing you must do when you come upon this tab is route your Jaws cursor to your PC cursor. When you have done this use your arrow keys and navigate to the line that has the text refresh button. When you find the line hover over the button with your mouse cursor and left click it. JFW will announce percentages like a progress bar. Wait about 10 to 20 seconds. Press the PC cursor key. Now if you tab you will see another list box. Once again JFW will not announce list box when you get to it. If you press tab once more, JFW should say read only just say the first item. This item is your most recent chat you have had or started or received. If this is the chat that you wish to translate, route JFW to PC, hover over the chat name, “on the first word of the chat” and left click.
When you do this another window should appear. The title of this window will be the name of your chat that you clicked on in the list box before. By default you should have four things in this window if you navigate by pressing tab and shift tab. You will see a list box “JFW does not say list box just first item in it” this list box is where you will select your language pair. After doing this press the tab key. You should here jfw say edit, if not find the box that says edit by pressing tab until you’re here jfw say edit. The edit box is where you must type your text to be sent to the Skype chat. When you finish typing just press the inter key. JFW will not say anything. When tab is pressed JFW should say read only edit, this box will be where your text will be in the other language, otherwise known as the language you would see in the normal chat window. You may use your up and down arrows to read the box. The next box when tab is pressed shall say read only edit again. This box is where you will see the chat in the language that you selected. You may use your up and down arrows to read this box.
The last tab is the help tab. This tab is not accessible really with JFW, but you may experiment if you like. I can see the radio buttons, but pleased be warned, if one of the other radio buttons is checked besides the default, all Skype tags and languages will be changed.
I have now explained to a typical JFW user how to use the Universal Skype translator with Skype to the max accessibility as possible. I hope you have learned how to use this neat little tool with Skype by reading this article. If you have any questions about using Skype universal translator with JFW please feel free to E-Mail me at:
And once again, thanks for reading.
Thanks so much Justin, and if anyone has any questions about the “Speak and Translate Chats” Extra, please send me an email at TheUberOverLord@yahoo.com or read more detailed information about what this Extra can do and how to use it here: