There is a new tool available now which will read Gaelic texts out loud to you. This kind of tool is called Text To Speech or TTS for short. Especially useful for blind people (who can use it with screen readers for example) or other people such as learners or folk who struggle with written Gaelic for whatever reason. But before we go any further, hereâ€™s an example:
Since the project received partial public funding (Scottish Government, BĂ˛rd na GĂ idhlig, Scottish Funding Council and SQA), the voice is free of charge to:
public sector bodies
schools and universities in Scotland
families with children in school
and some others. There is a detailed list on CALL Scotlandâ€™s website (where youâ€™ll also find the application form for a copy of the voice). But donâ€™t despair, as a learner or someone oversears, you can still acquire a license for ÂŁ24.99 (incl. VAT; $37.41/â‚¬35.34) – which is very reasonable we would say.
It was developed by a company in Edinburgh with an excellent track-record in producing highly realistic voices, Cereproc, in co-operation with iGĂ idhlig and both will continue development and maintenance of the voice.
Your first port of call should be CALL Scotland. If you work in a school or other public sector organisation or if you have children in school, fill in CALLâ€™s application form. Everyone else will be able to purchase a copy from CALL webshop (where it will be available soon, in the meantime contact them on 0131 651 6235 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Companies interested in using the voice should contact Cereproc directly.
We havenâ€™t had a chance yet to play around with screen readers but itâ€™s a standard voice and if you are using a screen reader already, installing Ceitidh should just work.
Once you acquire a licensed copy from CALL or Cereproc, youâ€™ll need a program which will â€śhandleâ€ť the voice. That could be a screen reader but not everyone needs a screen reader per se. You might just want to feed it text from the internet or an email and so on.
If you already have such a tool, youâ€™ll know what to do. Otherwise, weâ€™d suggest Balabolka. Itâ€™s free and really good and simple to use. You can download it here. Install it and then execute the voice file you got from CALL and it should automatically do the rest for you.
Open Balabolka. Youâ€™ll see a screen like below with lots of white space. Write some Gaelic or paste something into it and hit the green Play button:
Thatâ€™s it really.
The voice is not a spellchecker. If you feed it mistakes, Ceitidh will make an educated guess but no promises.
Ceitidh is intended as an assistive tool. Weâ€™re not suggesting in any shape of form that it will or should replace real humans. There still is nothing like a granny reading you a story but if you donâ€™t have one of those…
The voice works on Mac OSX but we havenâ€™t had a chance to give it a go and make screenshots etc but will do ASAP.