Re: T.E.O.'s Draft--Cascading Speech Style Sheets

Raman T. V. (
Wed, 28 Feb 1996 09:11:33 -0800

I think there is some confusion as to the purpose of a speech stylesheet.
I hope I can help clarify the situtation.

JuanJo Miguez writes:
> On Wed, 21 Feb 1996, T. V. Raman wrote:
> > I find the proposal from Europe overly simple and catering to only
> > low-level speech devices.
> Dear Raman:
> We agree with you that is a simple proposal. That's what we want to make
> it easy to use so that people with few knowledge about speech could not
> choose wrong parameters.
Sorry, but the stylesheet definition *should* not tie itself to devices that
you have.
It's the responsibility of the implementation of User Agents
to support the devices.

>It's oriented to the actual devices, the ones that
> most people can afford.
Again, the speech stylesheet is *not* an extract from a speech synthesizer

>It's something neccesary for many people and they
> need it as soon as possible.
The speech stylesheet impacts WWW accessibility.
But accessibility vendors can implement the functionality you expose in your
proposal *without* a speech stylesheet mechanism at all.

Also, I *do* not want a speech stylesheet definition that caters purely to
providing low-quality spoken access to people unable to see the screen.

The speech stylesheet is a mechanism
for enabling users (be they blind or sighted) to listen to content on the WWW.

>It's the difference between knowing about
> the information in the Web or nothing about it.
I think you're way off.
The above statement has nothing to do with cascaded speech stylesheets
--though I agree with you that making the WWW accessible is of paramount

> If we tried to make a complicated definition of the speech, perhaps we would
> agree with you, but we are trying to make it simple, useful and very easy to
> change from one definition to another by the user.

Again, the above statement makes no sense in terms of designing a stylesheet
The speech stylesheet *is not* a settings file for some braindead dos

>We think this way is easier
> than the number of decibels, where the user should know to make his own style
> sheet how what decibels are. In fact really few people know about this
> (engineers, Physics and so on). To make it easy we let people decide between
> a set of relative values that will be mapped by expert people to the real
> values in the synthesizer.
I agree with you that decibels etc are a problem for more than the reason you
state above.
I've posted a revised spec that provides more flexibility --ie the volume etc
can be defined in relative or absolute units.

> When a user wants to write his personal CSSS, he can try any of the
> available values, and it will work because they will be mapped to real
> and typical values. With your specification someone could try with
> an average-pitch of 5 Hertzs, but it will sound bad. We prefer to let
> people choose a relative number than an exact and perhaps wrong number
> of average pitch for example.
Note my comment above --the revised spec includes relative settings for most
Again I dont envisage the average user sitting down and changing the settings
in his speech stylesheet --how many times do you sit down and change the RGB
color values in your visual stylesheet?
This is why I I make the point above (and restate it here)
the speech stylesheet *is not* the settings file for your screenreader.
(To folks on this list unfamiliar with screenreaders --screenreaders are
software packages that allow a visually impaired person to listen to the
The controls provided by the screenreader in terms of volume control, pitch
control, etc --in fact the very controls in the T.E.O. spec-- should be
thought of as being analogous to turning knobs on your physical monitor.)

> We try to make understandable speech, but we think that it's
> difficult to make a speech synthesizer speaking in all the dialects
> of all the world's countries, as you suggest in your draft.
The speech stylesheet is a stylesheet --no one asked you to go implement a
synthesizer that spoke every language-- (unless you want/need to)

> could be possible, but not many people could afford it. We are just
> thinking to make easy for the final user and with the devices that
> are now mostly used, so that this could be working soon because there
> are many people that needs it very much as soon as possible.

If you are working on producing a WWW client for use by blind people I wish
you all success and look forward to using it.
But that does not mean that the speech stylesheet specification should turn
into a settings file for that application.

> Best regards,
> Juanjo
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> Juan Jose Miguez Iglesias
> Kath. Universiteit Leuven | Phone : +32 16 32 18 66
> Dept. Electrotechniek (ESAT), T.E.O. |
> Kard. Mercierlaan 94 | Fax : +32 16 32 19 86
> ----------------------------------------------------------------


Best Regards, ____________________________________________________________________________ --raman

Adobe Systems Tel: 1 (415) 962 3945 (B-1 115) Advanced Technology Group Fax: 1 (415) 962 6063 1585 Charleston Road Email: Mountain View, CA 94039 -7900 http://www-atg/People/Raman.html (Internal To Adobe) (Cornell)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are my own and in no way should be taken as representative of my employer, Adobe Systems Inc. ____________________________________________________________________________