Microsoft are soon to offer new voice options for users of its built-in screenreader.
Blind and partially sighted people who rely on Narrator will soon be offered more natural voices as found already in Microsoft Edge’s Real Aloud feature.
This is currently available to test in the latest Windows Insider Preview Build 22543 as noted on Microsoft’s own Windows Insider Blog.
“Natural Narrator voices use modern, on-device text to speech and once downloaded are supported without an internet connection. Natural Narrator voices are available in English-U.S.”
The voices are called ‘Jenny’ and ‘Aria’ and have to be installed separately in order to be used.
Currently the preview seems only to be available in the US even if your local region settings are set to US, not UK. Hopefully this will roll out to the UK in the coming weeks, although it must be re-iterated that this is a beta-only feature at this point. It is also unclear at this point whether these voices will be available to Windows 10 Narrator users but we will watch with interest and report back once we know.
There are also new keyboard shortcuts being added to Narrator, as noted in the Windows Insider Blog.
“Newly added Narrator keyboard commands include:
- Narrator + Alt + the Minus key – Move to the previous voice in Narrator’s voice settings combo box.
- Narrator + Alt + the Plus key – Move to the next voice in Narrator’s voice settings combo box.
Updated keyboard commands include:
- Narrator + Alt + the Left Bracket key – Move to the previous punctuation reading mode.
- Narrator + Alt + the Right Bracket key – Move to the next punctuation reading mode.
We look forward to you trying out our new natural voices and would love to hear your feedback and suggestions in Feedback Hub (Win + F) under Accessibility > Narrator.”
On the podcast listen to the new voices of ‘Jenny’ and ‘Aria’ with Steven Scott and Shaun Preece.
What do you think of the new voices? Email us with your feedback firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0204 571 3354 and leave us a voice message.