At the end of the previous year of 2016, we’ve launched a campaign to support Arabic language/voices inside Google text to speech engine. The campaign took a place in Arab world successfully, we’ve launched a questionnaire with a set of questions to hear from users (blind or sighted people), and the Arabic hashtag was and still fully active talking about the problem and put users on the social media in the situation talking about the problem!
Here, as a developers of Swift Braille soft keyboard project, we’re dealing with this campaign as a serious activity, we can’t test Swift Braille keyboard without Arabic voices included in the embedded TTS on Android devices (as we targeted Arab market, and supports typing in Arabic using Braille), and we need either to test it on other paid TTS, or get any of beta testers to test the new version in various of installed TTSs.
In this post, I’ll talk about the final report of the questionnaire the was published for a month between blind on the social media to hear from them, and send a message to Google and the developers of Google TTS.
Let me share with you some of numbers:
– About 5000 clicks and visits in the questionnaire form, Egypt was on the top, followed by KSA as the top visitors and responders.
– We’ve got about 1600 responses (after the reversion process), from blind and other sighted people.
– We’ve got in touch with influential users in the social media, specially in both tech and blind world, to help us sharing the form and tweeting with the Arabic hashtag.
– We’ve selected the best 70 as the best responses (shared here), and I’ll post here some of them (Translated to English).
About 86.4% of responders saying that they have Android devices, and 13.6% of them don’t, but they wish Google to support Arabic and move to Android devices…because of the capabilities on this mobile OS.
Android OS versions
We’ve here a set of colors and versions of Android smart phones, a lot of those versions have really built-in Google TTS inside, but still doesn’t support Arabic voices! 27.2% of users have Lollipop Android version, followed by 23% uses Marshmallow. Interested with the full map of this choices? please click here to show the interactive statistics of this question.
Blind and special needs
We have asked a question in the questionnaire if the responder is from special needs or not, 71.3% of them answered with yes, 28.7% answered with a NO! As this cause very important for all users, blind, developers..etc and would like Arabic voices to be supported inside Google TTS.
Alternatives of Google TTS
As Google TTS doesn’t support Arabic voices (yet), what are the alternatives that used by Arab blind users? 47.2% are using Smart Voice TTS, 39.7% are using Acapela TTS, and 7.1% are using Vocalizer TTS. The bad thing with those engines are very expensive, having lack of the support, and the quality!
P.S: Some of those messages translated to English, changed, written as it sent to us (English), in order to cover the cause.
You are a great company, and we need your support because you’re working hard and all other developed apps by you are fully compatible with blind and visually impairment. Once you support Arabic voices, you will give a better support and improve it.
Google Inc, developers…
We used you since years and you are seeking to serve your customers with all what you are able to do…
Dear friends: Here I live in Western countries and I follow news and activities of the blind …
I think you are delinquent in the rights of the Arab blind friends for years…and communicate with you regarding the Arabic language support in your own engine…
However, you are ignoring all the messages despite the presence of voices speaking in Google maps and Google translator…
We are at least 4 million Android users of blind, we are a big market, they have the right to use their phones with their mother language, as you’re supporting so many languages but ignoring Arabic voices to be supported!
Dear in the Alphabet Google, you care to develop applications in many areas and different groups in the society, and people with visual disabilities need your attention, because a lot of them learners, students and staff users for all your services in the Arab region, and they deserve to help them access to your services, like any other provision of Arabic voices is also available for other languages . I hope you accept our request. Thank You.
I’m iPhone user, because I couldn’t find pre-installed Arabic voices in the built-in Google TTS, I hope they could support Arabic voices to move away to be Android user.
I want the Arabic voices to be supported in Google TTS because the Arabic language is supported by default in other OSs like Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone. In addition, Arab blinds have the right for using their smartphones as soon as they buy them without waiting to install an extra application. Moreover, this service enables other applications to benefit from its advantages for different purposes.
I would like in the presence of Arabic voices so I can use the phone as soon as I unboxing it like other systems do. Also because I have a friend asked me blind.
Of course, this campaign in its English version is getting started! A lot of other moves will be in the place and announced either in our Facebook page or Twitter account. If you have any further questions, shoot us an email using contact us page.
Please help us by tweeting or posting using the hashtag of the campaign under #SupportArabicInGoogleTTS, and here is a special page with ready copy/paste tweets for you, to share them on your social media. Supporting Arabic voices in such a big and promising market like Arab market is a great for Android market as well! We hope to see in the next version of Android to support Arabic voices…