If you have a visually impaired child or partner, you might want to check out the latest text-to-speech extensions which can transform Firefox into a talking web browser. CliCk, Speak helps the partially unsighted and dyslexic user who has difficulty deciphering the text on the screen. Fire Vox is designed for daily browsing by the unsighted user. The extensions can be used with Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.

The FireVox extension was originally written as a demonstration for the function of the CLC-4-TTS as a reusable text-to-speech library. Although system-wide screen reading is available from Linux, a browser-specific reader has its advantages. It can read and impart nuances more intelligently. For instance, it can distinguish internal and external links and distinguish text formatting including lists and headings. It can also read complex mathematical expressions more clearly using mathspeak for MathML.

There are two ways to use Fire Vox on Linux. You can either start CLC-4-TTS’s FreeTTS speech engine (provided by the project), or depend on Orca. You can download the CLC-4-TTS, which is a .jar file providing a Java-based speech engine for free; you must install it as root with sudo java -jar clc4tts_freetts_installer_1.2.jar Then, download and install the Fire Vox extension. Restart Firefox once the installing is done.

Keyboard shortcuts control the functions in Fire Vox and the shortcuts can be changed according to the user’s preference. Just go to the configuration panel. Certain browser-specific functions are available in FireVox. For instance, Ctrl-Shift-L brings up a user-navigable menu to access all of the page elements individually — links, images, frames, etc. If you do not need a constant or continuous screen reader, CLiCk, Speak may suit your purposes better. CLiCk, Speak adds two buttons to the Firefox toolbar – one activates the auto-reading mode while the other stops it. The steps to install Click, Speak is exactly the same as for Fire Vox.