O’Reilly sites implement ReadSpeaker voice technology

As you may have noticed, I am offering an audio alternative to the text-based RSS feed of this site. The voice in the audio feed is not mine though – it is a synthetic voice that is used to automatically create audio files of each article I post here.

The technology that makes it happen is ReadSpeaker Podcaster which I mentioned in ReadSpeaker PodCaster - listen to 456 Berea Street just after adding the feature to the site.

I’m mentioning it again because one of my contacts at ReadSpeaker alerted me to the fact that their technology is now being used on O’Reilly Radar and O’Reilly FYI, and other O’Reilly websites.

That is obviously good news for ReadSpeaker, but it is also good news for all the people who benefit from more sites giving their readers the opportunity to listen to their content.

Posted on May 15, 2007 in Accessibility, Quicklinks

Comments

  1. I’m really surprised by the quality. Doesn’t look like it’s freely available though.

  2. May 15, 2007 by Brian

    I really despise when companies ask that you request a price quote for their services. JUST PUT THE PRICE ON THE WEBSITE!!!! It’s not like it is a complicated service with 50,000 variations (like website development). If nothing else, provide your lowest price with “starting at…” to give us an idea.

    That aside, the quality does seem decent. It is a little more jumpy that the other speaking technology that I’ve listened to recently, which I think was made by IBM, IIRC.

  3. Roger,

    may I ask what you currently pay for this service? I’d love to add this feature, as I’m a big supporter of accessibility. However, as I don’t generate any income from my blog, I’m looking for a service who does this for free (at least as long as they get only a few hits a month from me).

    I asked them for a price quote… We’ll see what they tell me.

    • Alex
  4. I think Roger gets it for free, in return for offering ReadSpeaker publicity and exposure here on his blog.

    You need to be a rather successful blogger to afford their technology anyway, pity they don’t offer advertising supported solutions or something for us who aren’t making a buck from blogging.

  5. Brian: We do have a complexity in the pricing that prevent us from posting the prices on the web. We have differences between different languages since we use different voice(TTS)-providers for different languages (always the best on each language of course)

    Alex (and Jakob): a service for speech-enabeling your personal blog is aviable for free. See more at this website!

    So far we (and O’Reillys) have got a lot of great feedback on ReadSpeaker.

    BR/ Daniel Erkstam, ReadSpeaker

  6. I don’t get it… what’s the point?

    Surely anyone who needs audio-versions of websites and blogs is already using screen-reading software? What does ReadSpeaker bring to the table?

    (I took the time to listen to the MP3 of this article to see if it was packaged up with background music or sandwiched with advertising. I’m glad to hear there’s no advertising, but… well… I still don’t get it.)

  7. May 16, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Ash:

    Surely anyone who needs audio-versions of websites and blogs is already using screen-reading software? What does ReadSpeaker bring to the table?

    That’s a common misconception. ReadSpeaker (and similar) technology is useful to dyslexics and people with cognitive disabilities among others, and those groups rarely have screen readers.

  8. Daniel: Thanks for the info, I’ll definitely use the service!

  9. www.rabobank.nl, one of Europes largest Internet banks (for which I did the architecture) also uses Readspeaker specifically for the reason you quote:

    ReadSpeaker (and similar) technology is useful to dyslexics and people with cognitive disabilities among others, and those groups rarely have screen readers.

    There is more functional analfabetism in western society than most people realise.

  10. May 18, 2007 by Brian
    Brian: We do have a complexity in the pricing that prevent us from posting the prices on the web.

    Alright… then how about English language and give us a starting price. It can’t be THAT complicated.

  11. starting price for ReadSpeaker AudioFeed is: “for free”. We may include advertisement/sponsor messages later on to finance the service. We also have other paying ReadSpeaker solutions starting at about $29 per month. If you are interested in a price for a specific site, please let us know. We will soon have a public price list for private non profit blogs.

  12. One of my main problems with stuff like ReadSpeaker is a lot of people will use it in place of doing anything else to make their site accessible.

    If you’re going to use it, use it as an added extra, not as the ONLY effort to be accessible.

  13. May 21, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Adrian:

    One of my main problems with stuff like ReadSpeaker is a lot of people will use it in place of doing anything else to make their site accessible.

    Yeah, I fully agree. Speech technology and font resizing widgets are more common on sites that have paid no attention to accessibility during development.

    If you’re going to use it, use it as an added extra, not as the ONLY effort to be accessible.

    It should obviously in no way be the only effort to be accessible, but I don’t think it should be regarded as just “an added extra” either.

  14. May 26, 2007 by Kris

    One of my main problems with stuff like ReadSpeaker is a lot of people will use it in place of doing anything else to make their site accessible.

    Actually, if you made your site accessible from the start (clean, semantic HTML), ReadSpeaker mostly works like a breeze. This detail they stress themselves; they’re not pretending to be the only solution to all your accessibility issues.

    I got to work with them on a big client of ours. Site will go life soon.

  15. Have you seen how badly done it is?

    Here’s how to do it properly:

    http://yandleblog.com/2007/05/ben-and-i-have-recently-been-working-on.html

  16. I am not disabled, but I use services like this one. I have not got the time to read all my feeds, but like to listen while jogging or driving!

    Too bad that I can’t get an output i SMIL, though (and a SMIL-player that does not cost a fortune) as it would make the audio more navigable.

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