8 Way Speaker
The 8 Way Speaker app for Windows 8.1 shows a grid of customizable words and phrases. You can have these words and phrases spoken by taking action that's most comfortable for you. Depending on the equipment you have, this includes these 8 ways:
Use the arrow keys on a keyboard
Touch a phrase with your finger
Click on a phrase with the mouse
Move your finger a very short distance on the screen to reach any phrase
Move the mouse a very short distance on the screen to reach any phrase
Use an external tablet
Use a switch
Use 3rd party head tracking software to reach any phrase
8 Way Speaker Introduction
If you make presentations or do other forms of public speaking, you can add a collection of paragraphs and have them spoken by using touch, a mouse, a keyboard or a switch. Learn more about presentations with the 8 Way Speaker app.
Public speaking with the 8 Way Speaker app: Adding paragraphs
Public speaking with the 8 Way Speaker app: Speaking paragraphs
A short lecture on how to remember the Kings of England from 1216 to 1485
Get the app from the Windows Store
How to use the app
Selecting a voice
Speaking an ad-hoc phrase
Future enhancements to the 8 Way Speaker app
8 ways to work with the app
Selecting a voice
To change the voice used by the 8 Way Speaker app, go to the app options by either swiping from the right edge of the screen or pressing Win+C on the keyboard, and then going to Settings and Options.
The list of all voices installed on the device will be shown in the app options, and you can pick the voice you'd like to be used.
To customize the word or phrase shown on a button, first use your finger, mouse or keyboard to get the blue highlight to the button that you'd like to change.
Once the button is highlighted, either swipe down from the top of the screen or press the Windows+Z keys to show the app bar at the bottom of the screen.
Now type the new phrase that is to appear on the button, and press the Enter key or click the "Change phrase". The new phrase will appear on the button, and will be spoken when you invoke the button.
Tip: Two buttons are intentionally left blank for you to add personal phrases, such as names.
Tip: You may want to change where phrases are shown on the screen in order to reach them as quickly as possible. For example, if you're right-handed and touch the screen to have the phrases spoken, you may want the commonly used phrases to appear on the right side of the app. If you're a switch user, then you may want these phrases to be shown near the top left of the app, so that they're highlighted quickly when scanning the phrases in the app.
Speaking an ad-hoc phrase
If you'd like to speak a phrase that's not shown on a button, move to the field at the bottom of the app either by tapping in it or by pressing the tab key on the keyboard. When the insertion point is showing in the field, type the phrase you want to be spoken. (The "insertion point" is the small vertical line that appears in fields when you can type in them.)
Once you've typed the entire phrase, either press the Enter key on the keyboard or tap the "Speak" button.
The narrow app
When the app is resized to become narrow, only the buttons in the right half of the app are shown. This prevents the buttons becoming too small to work with.
Tip: If you do use the app when it's narrow, change where phrases are shown in the app so that the ones you use are still shown when the app is narrow.
Future enhancements to the 8 Way Speaker app
The purpose of the 8 Way Speaker app is to provide a way for you to continue to communicate as your abilities changes, whether those changes occur over the course of a day or over many weeks. The first version of the app focuses on the different ways the grid of phrases can be used, rather than having a large set of features. Over time, based on your feedback, the set of features can be enhanced to make the app more useful to you in practice. So send your requests to me at Barker@Herbi.org, and I can continue to improve the app.
8 ways to work with the app
1. Use the arrow keys on a keyboard
You can use the arrow keys to move around the phrases shown. When the blue highlight has reached the phrase you'd like spoken, press the Enter key. If the highlight is on the last row and you press the Down arrow key, you move into the ad-hoc message field, where you can compose a new message. You can also use the Tab key to move between the ad-hoc message field and the phrase buttons.
Tip: If no blue highlight is showing and the arrow keys don't make it appear, press the Tab key until the blue highlight appears on a phrase.
2. Touch a phrase with your finger
Touch a button to have the phrase shown on the button spoken. The phrase will be spoken based on the button beneath your finger when you touched the screen. So if you move your finger to another button while you're touching the screen, the phrase from the original button will still be spoken.
The phrase button will show the blue highlight as soon as you touch the screen.
3. Click on a phrase with the mouse
As you move the mouse pointer around the app, the phrase button beneath the pointer is highlighted in light blue. When you reach the phrase you'd like to have spoken, click on the phrase with the left mouse button. The phrase spoken is the one highlighted in light blue prior to mouse button being clicked. The phrase button will show the blue highlight as soon as you click it.
4. Move your finger a very short distance on the screen to reach any phrase
You may like to touch the screen to select a phrase, but don't want to have to move all the way to where the phrase is shown on the screen. An option that will be of interest in that case is called "Short movements". The picture below shows the related choices in the app options.
To try this out, pick the "Large" option. Then when you're back in the app, touch the grid of words and phrases and move your finger a small distance around while touching the screen. You'll find that the blue highlight moves quickly around the whole screen, even though you're only moving your finger a little. If you'd picked the "Medium" or "Sensitive" options earlier, then you'd have to move your finger even less in order to move the blue highlight around the whole screen.
When you lift your finger off the screen and then repeat this action, the blue highlight will move relative to the phrase that was highlighted when you touched the screen.
Once the blue highlight is on the phrase you'd like spoken, tap once with your finger anywhere on the grid of words or phrases to have the phrase spoken.
5. Move the mouse a very short distance on the screen to reach any phrase
The "Short movements" option described above also applies to mouse movement too. When "Short movements" is turned on and you move the mouse pointer around while holding the left mouse button down, the phrase button beneath the pointer will not be highlighted. This is because if you click with the mouse, you'll speak the phrase that has the blue highlight, not the phrase underneath the mouse pointer.
To use the "Short movements" option with the mouse, press the left mouse button and keep the button down while you move the mouse around. As you do this, the blue highlight will move over the whole screen, even though you're only moving the mouse a short distance. When you've reached the phrase you'd like spoken, release the mouse button, and then do a click with that mouse button. Whenever you do a click, the phrase with the blue highlight will get spoken.
Is this as useful to you as it could be? If you'd like to see changes in this features, let me know. Perhaps you'd like the blue highlight to move around without having to press the left mouse button.
6. Use an external tablet
An "external tablet" is a device that can plug into a computer, and you can work at that device to control where the mouse pointer appears on the computer screen. You can also use that device to click things on the computer screen. The external tablet typically has a fairly small rectangular surface. That surface is associated with the entire area on the computer screen, even though the external tablet is often much smaller than the computer screen. So if you move from one side of the external tablet to the other, the mouse pointer will move from one side of the computer screen to the other.
Some external tablets come with an electronic "pen". If you hold this like a regular pen and tap on the external tablet, the computer will react as if you'd clicked with a mouse. So if you don't want to work directly at a touch screen on a computer, and prefer using a pen to using a mouse, and then an external tablet might be of interest to you.
To use an external tablet with the 8 Way Speaker app, use the pen to move the mouse pointer over the phrase you want spoken, and then tap with the pen on the external tablet.
7. Use a switch
If you use a switch, you can have the app scan through the phrases shown on the screen. First the app will scan each row of phrases, and then when you've selected a row, the app will scan each phrase in that row.
To enable the scanning of the phrases with a switch, go to the app options, and change the option "Use a switch "from "No switch", to the option which matches the rate at which you'd like the app to scan through the phrases shown. For example, you might prefer the scan to move between phrases once every second.
Once you've selected the rate at which you'd like the scan to move through the phrases, select the type of input that your switch sends to the computer. Some switches will have a fixed type of input, and others can be configured with an adaptor to send different types of input. The 8 Way Speaker app can be set to respond to three types of input sent from a switch. These inputs are a Spacebar press, an Enter key press or a left mouse button click. So select the option in the app that matches your switch.
Having selected the options for scan rate and the type of input, when you press the switch, a scan will begin by highlighting the first row of phrases. The highlight will then move to each row in turn. Once the last row as been highlighted, the first row will be highlighted again. If the switch is not pressed again before all rows have been highlighted twice, then the scan will stop.
Once the highlight has reached the row which shows the phrase you'd like spoken, press the switch to begin highlighting each phrase in that row in turn. Once the phrase you'd like spoke is highlighted, press the switch to have it spoken. If all the phrases on the row are highlighted twice without the switch being pressed, then the app moves back to highlighting each row in turn.
After a phrase has been spoken, a scan of the rows of phrases can be started again by pressing the switch.
Tip: If the app doesn't respond to a switch press after something other than the phrase buttons have been worked with, (for example, the app settings or another app,) it may be necessary to press the tab key or tap the screen in order for the app to respond to the switch.
8. Use 3rd party head tracking software to reach any phrase
If your computer has a camera attached, then you may be interested in 3rd party software which allows you to move the mouse pointer by moving your head. For example, the free Camera Mouse software can be set up to move the mouse pointer as you move your head, and to click whatever's underneath the mouse pointer.
By using software such as Camera Mouse, you can move your head to have the 8 Way Speaker app speak phrases shown on the screen. While Camera Mouse has many of its own options to have it work as well as possible for you, the 8 Way Speaker app also has some options which might help when using Camera Mouse.
At any given moment, you may not want the 8 Way Speaker app to say anything at all. However, if the mouse pointer remains motionless over a phrase button for a certain period of time, the phrase will be spoken. So you may want to "park" the mouse pointer away from all phrase buttons. If you select the "Show margins" option, then a gap will appear between the left and right edges of the app and the phrase buttons. Move the mouse pointer to one of these gaps when you don't want anything spoken
Once you've used Camera Mouse to speak a phrase, it's easy for Camera Mouse to trigger the same phrase button shortly afterwards. This means the same phrase will be repeated unintentionally. To prevent this, turn on the "Don't repeat a phrase" option. This means a phrase will not be repeated unless the mouse pointer has moved over a different phrase first.
Future improvements to the 8 Way Speaker app
The following is a list of requests for changes to the 8 Way Speaker app. The requests will be worked on as time permits:
1. When a click of the right mouse button is done in Presentation mode, the 'selection' panel drops down in conjunction with the 'editing' bar popping up at the bottom. This ends up obscuring the top section of the presentation window being edited. Could there be an option for having two grid squares reserved one accessing settings and the other the 'selection' panel? Thereby eliminating the need for a right click and allowing true one click control of the whole program.