Thanks for the tip about there being a version of Frotz with a screen
reader built in.
Actually, that's not technically correct. Microsoft Windows comes with
a technology called the Microsoft Speech API or Sapi for short. Sapi
is an API that is used to create and control a number of Sapi
compatibl voices. Unlike a screen reader, per say, Sapi is only there
for speaking text sent to it by a program. It has no screen reader
abilities etc in of itself. So just think of Sapi as the computers
voice if you will.
So what Winfrotz TTS does is it copies the text on the screen and
sends it to Sapi to be spoken. Since neither of the programs allows
you to review the screen, speak applications outside the Winfrotz TTS
environment, etc therefore it is not in fact a screen reader. We call
this kind of program self-voicing because it speaks the stuff related
to Winfrotz via Sapi 5, but doesn't provide the same abilities as a
Does anyone use winfrotz TTS, or is it better to use a more recent
version of frotz with your own screen reader software?
Personally, I find Winfrotz TTS invaluable for playing inform style
adventures because it automatically speaks the text on the screen as
well as a few other things. Running Winfrotz by itself with a screen
reader also means I have to do a fair amount of reviewing the screen
and looking around for the last prompt etc. That gets old real quick.
Winfrotz TTS is better because it takes a lot of effort out of playing
Some sections of text being read just jumble together. Is that a
normal experience using a screen reader? Or, is it something in the
That unfortunately is one of the problems with Winfrotz TTS. True
screen readers like Jaws, Orca, Window-Eyes, NVDA, etc don't have this
problem. Screen readers are more customizable allowing you to turn off
things you don't want to be spoken such as punctuation marks as well
as using acception dictionaries to change how certain things are
spoken. Winfrotz TTS is very static were screen readers are very
For example, a number of years ago I met a young laidy who was from
the south. Naturally being from the south she had a very heavy
southeren accent and used a lot of slang like y'all, you'ins, you get
the picture. However, typically screen readers like Jaws, Window-eyes,
etc are textbook perfect English. She didn't like it and used the Jaws
acception dictionary to change you all to y'all and various other
frazes to sound, well, more southeren. When I heard Jaws talking like
that i couldn't help but laugh my butt off. It was great.
However, the point is you can do that with Jaws, but with Winfrotz TTS
because it just copies text and sends it to Sapi you have very little
control over how it comes out punctuation marks, symbols, and all.
Without using special speech rules etc Sapi will tend to run on and
string things together robotically without pausing to sound more
human/natural. Screen readers have special speech rules in place to
pause between sentences etc to sound more natural and realistic. Make
I realise now how annoying extra symbols are. In the game, it came
across a line made up of about forty underlines and it just went "under
line under line under line under line". Is there something you can do to
avoid those kind of situations, or is it something you just put up with,
and hope that authors do it as little as possible?
Well, this too is a problem with Winfrotz TTS. As long as you use
Winfrotz TTS there isn't much you can do but to put up with it. if
Winfrotz TTS had the features of a real screen reader you could set
the punctuation level to full, most, some, or none, and disable the
pspeaking of some symbols like the underline symbol. In this case you
can't. the only alternative is to use Winfrotz with a real screen
reader like NVDA or something.
Now, you want to know something really annoying? Try a game that has a
lot of text art. Now, that will drive you up the wall. Since we can't
see it and we are hearing a mindless string of letters, numbers, and
symbols it is beyond insane.
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