H2R Speak Chrome Extension
The H2R Speak plugin is avaliable in the Chrome Web Store
H2R Speak Users Manual
H2R Speak is a small plug-in from Hear2Read.Org that reads Indic text by speaking. It uses the Hear2Read Text to Speech engine (TTS Assistive Technology for users with Visual Impairment that reads digital text aloud) running in a Cloud Server through the Internet.
The plug-in can be used by anyone (users with normal sight or visual impairment, including Dyslexia) to read web pages with Indic text and some embedded English text. It currently supports the following Indic languages:
- Gujarati (Female voice)
- Hindi (Male voice)
- Kannada (Male voice)
- Malayalam (Male voice)
- Marathi (Male voice)
- Odia (Male voice)
- Punjabi (Female voice)
- Sanskrit (Male voice)
- Tamil (Male voice)
- Telugu (Female voice)
It can read English text (spoken with an Indian accent) sentences that are often found on Indic text web pages, e. g. date and time of the news story. It does not read embedded English text within an Indic text sentence, except for numbers. Embedded English Numbers are spoken in the Indic language.
Once the extension is installed and pinned using the Pin option for extensions, the Hear2Read icon () is displayed in the top right corner where all pinned extensions icons are displayed (to the left of the 3 dots for browser settings).
H2R Speak allows users to selectively turn it on for just one site or all sites. Clicking on the icon displays a drop-down menu. Click on “This can read and change site data” to display three options:
- When you click the extension (this allows H2R Speak to read the current site in the open tab or window. When the tab or window is closed, you will have to click the extension again to turn it on for the tab or window you are in).
- On all pages for the current site as displayed by browser in the drop-down menu, such as ekatrafoundation.org. In other words, the extension remains enabled for the site, even if you close and then access the site later in a different or new tab/window.
- For all sites. The extension is enabled for all sites including other browser tabs or windows already open.
H2R Speak reads one sentence at a time by sending the text to the Hear2Read TTS cloud server which sends the audio back to the PC for playback. As such, the pause between sentences can be longer if the next sentence (to be read) is long. The end of sentence is determined by a:
- Period (.)
- Question mark (?)
- Exclamation point (!)
- Danda (|), also known as Poorn Virama. It is used in many Indic languages that use Devanagari script as well as other scripts, and
- End of the current html element such as a paragraph or header. Often this is not obvious to users.
The sentence that is currently being read is highlighted in blue.
Useful for many different users
H2R Speak is designed to be used by Visually Impaired (VI), as well as, users with normal sight that have non-visual impairments or simply want to read by listening. Examples of non-visual impairments include Dyslexia, speech impairment due to ALS or surgeries. It is also useful for users who are unable to read a particular language but understand spoken words.
User Interface - Keyboard Commands or On-Screen Controls
H2R Speak offers a set of Keyboard commands modeled after NVDA for VI users. All keyboard commands are a combination of the <insert> key and an action key. Depressing an action key while the <insert> key is pressed causes the action to be performed.
Users with normal sight have the option of using on-Screen control buttons or keyboard commands. By default, the on-screen control buttons are ON when H2R Speak is enabled. The action button to turn on (or off) the on-screen buttons is “v”. It toggles between visible buttons and invisible buttons.
In the on-screen mode, the bottom part of the screen (a horizontal ribbon across the entire screen) where the on-screen controls are displayed H2R does not recognize the cursor. As such, users cannot select text at the bottom of the screen. For this reason, experienced users prefer to use Keyboard Commands and turn off on-screen controls.
Reading options – Cursor mode or Page mode
H2R Speak supports two modes for reading the current web page:
- Cursor Mode – In this mode, hovering the cursor anywhere in a paragraph for about a second results in reading the paragraph from the beginning to the end.
- Page Mode – In this mode, it starts reading from the beginning of the web page, or the main tag (Also known as Landmark) which indicates the primary content of a web page. The main content area consists of content that is directly related to or expands upon the central topic of the current web page. It reads until it reaches the end of the main content area unless stopped by Pause command.
The commands to toggle between these two modes are described below. Whenever the user toggles from Cursor mode to Page mode, H2R Speak starts at the first sentence of the web page.
All Keyboard commands are a combination of the <insert> key and an action key. Depressing an action key while the <insert> key is pressed causes the action to be performed. The actions keys are:
- "v" Toggles between visible buttons and invisible buttons.
- "p" Toggles between play and pause buttons in page mode or speaker off/on in cursor mode.
- "c" Toggles between the Cursor mode and Page mode for reading.
In page mode (only) the highlighted sentence being spoken can be changed as follows:
- "." or “>” Move forward one sentence.
- "," or “<” Move back one sentence.
Once the desired sentence to read is highlighted (selected), press <insert> p to resume speaking.
The following buttons are visible in page mode:
- Play/Pause - Play starts reading from the beginning of the web page, or the main tag for accessibility. Pause stops reading. Pressing Play subsequently restarts reading where it was paused.
- Back - Goes back one sentence.
- Next - Goes forward one sentence.
- Page/Cursor mode - toggle is gray (with the solid circle on the left) in page mode.
The following buttons are visible in Cursor mode:
- Speaker icon
- Page/Cursor mode toggle is blue with the solid circle on the right.
The following configuration is saved in the browser and used for all tabs/windows:
- Button visibility (<insert> v)
- Reading mode Cursor/Page mode (<insert> c)
- Speaker On/Off (<insert> p)
Configuration options are saved even if all browser tabs & windows are closed.
Security and Privacy Restrictions
Browsers prohibits access to locally stored (on the PC) files by extensions. Therefore H2R Speak cannot be used to read web pages or html files saved on the PC. You may be able to use an extension to override this security restriction.
Certain web sites (for example all BBC web sites) instruct the Browsers to not allow exporting content to third party cloud servers (such as Hear2Read TTS server). Such web sites cannot be read by H2R Speak.
Hear2Read volunteers hope you find H2R Speak useful. We will love to hear from you. Please send your positive and constructive feedback to feedback@Hear2Read.org.