[Accessibleweb] Playing with FireVox
rells at cac.washington.edu
Fri Jan 11 10:21:19 PST 2008
FireVox is the new FireFox add-on voice browser. I have been trying
it out and I think it might be quite useful.
I have long been frustrated by the problem of demonstrating how voice
browsers work and how good Web design helps people using them. I have
access to JAWS on my office computer, but I do not have copy for
my portable (a Mac).
When Terry mentioned that FireVox was now available at the last
Accessibleweb at U meeting, I decided to give it a try. Here are some of my
o FireVox is easily downloaded and installed from
o FireVox has two modes - either enter control commands in
CTRL+Shift+command combinations (where command is the single
letter FireVox command you desire) or press the Pause/Break key
to go into "sticky modifier" mode, where you just enter the
- I found I had to use the sticky modifier mode because some
of the CTRL+Shift combinations were the same as for my
Web Developer's toolbar, which somehow had first priority.
So when I pressed CTRL+Shift+a to turn on Auto Read, I got
the Web page validated instead. I tried turning off the
toolbar with the View menu, but the Web Developer toolbar
still had precedence. By using the sticky modifier mode
I did not have that problem.
- Note that when you are filling in a form field, you want
the Sticky mode off, or FireVox will try to respond if you
enter a letter that is a command.
o It is fun to hear FireVox pronounce various acronyms. AxsJAX becomes
Axes Jack. Try it on a page of Latin or French.
o The various commands give you nice control. You can auto read some
text (it just reads the text continuously) or you can read it phrase
by phrase, repeat phrases, read previous phrases, etc. On the
screen (for us sighted folk) you can see the highlight move
as you move through the page.
o Turning FireVox off when you do not want your computer talking to
you is a little complicated
- Simplest way is to just turn off the sound on your speakers
- To actually turn FireVox off, pull down the Tools Menu to
Add-ons. In the list that appears select CLC-FireVox. You will
see a 'Disable' button. Click that then restart FireFox.
- Turn FireVox back on by doing the opposite. Go to Tools ->
Add-ons->CLC-FireVox, click on Enable and restart FireFox.
= One more step: Go to the Tools menu again and pull down
to 'FireVox TTS Selection'. A list of the voice libraries
will appear. Click on the one appropriate for you type
of computer. For Windows computers it would be 'SAPI 5'
Then your browser should start talking to you.
o You probably want to print out the list of commands from the
Web site and have it handy as you learn.
Test your pages
o Go to a site and see if you can navigate the site based on
what you hear.
o Does the linear content sequence (the sequence you hear text)
make sense? How could the sequence be improved?
o Try it on tables and image maps. Does what you hear make sense?
o Try filing out an online form, such as an eBay book order. Going
by just what you hear, can you successfully complete the
What I like
o FireVox will make it easy to demonstrate accessibility issues
o You can install it on anything you have FireFox on, include
Mac and Linux boxes (note below that the PPC Macs are not yet
o Its free.
o It is equipped to handle AxsJAX pages, which is an accessible
form or AJAX. This should help move us toward a better
understanding of accessible AJAX design.
Terry mentioned the idea that FireVox could be the defacto
accessibility testing tool instead of JAWS because it does not
cost $1000 and everyone can get a copy, yet it demonstrates the
basics of Web design for voice interaction.
Give it a try. 8-)
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Charles Chen" <clc4tts at HotPOP.com>
>To: <dev-accessibility at lists.mozilla.org>
>Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 8:57 PM
>Subject: New version of Fire Vox - Support added for the Mac's built in
>New version of Fire Vox released today. This is the release that Mac
>lovers have been waiting for! Support for the built-in Apple voices! I'd
>write more in this release post but I'm guessing that most Mac owners
>have already stopped reading at this point and are hitting my download
>page. This release also includes some optimizations/stability fixes for
>This is my first shot at doing Cocoa programming and I developed this on
>an Intel-based Mac laptop running OS X Tiger. So far, I've tested it on
>other Intel-based Macs running Tiger and those have all been able to run
>it fine. But I'm curious as to whether this will work on a PPC-based Mac
>or on OS X Leopard (Intel or PPC) - my guess is that it won't work on
>PPC-based Macs but will work on Intel-based ones running Leopard. If you
>have one of those configurations and have tried this, please let me know
>if it worked for you or not. Thanks!
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