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This is a transcript of a video about talking dictionaries that can be found in the online course Bridging the Gap.


Narrator: Large print and braille dictionaries will continue to serve users well when they need to see or feel information. However, small, portable, talking dictionaries are opening up new realms of possibilities for people who are blind or visually impaired.

These devices allow users to hear spoken definitions of words that they enter on a small typewriter style keyboard. Through the operation of simple command keys, users hear the desired word spoken aloud by a speech synthesizer. This particular model is the Franklin Language Master Special Edition 6000. It speaks and displays each letter as it is keyed in.

Sample of synthesized speech: “Need a word…”

If the desired word is entered incorrectly, or if the user isn’t sure of the spelling of the word, the unit will display and speak a list of suggested alternatives. It will also offer suggestions where no matching words are found and it does so with reasonably accurate pronunciation.

Sample of synthesized speech and comment by user: “Seven entries…” Options, “rhythm” Looks like that’s it. Let’s see. “B, writhes” No, “C, rhythms, D, writhe”

In this demonstration, the user chooses the word “rhythm” and the unit displays and voices the definition.

Sample of synthesized speech: “Rhythm, (noun). plural rhythms: Sense 1. a rise and fall in the flow of sound in speech.”

The user can listen to the entire definition or move through the definition, forward or backward, one word at a time.

Sample of synthesized speech: “verse is produced…”

The Language Master will even give definitions within definitions. If users encounter a word within a definition that they don’t know, the unit will locate the definition of the unknown word and read it aloud. Here, the word “verse” is defined within the overall definition of the word “rhythm.”

Sample of synthesized speech: “Verse, (noun). plural verses: Sense 1. a line of poetry. Also: STANZA.”

A Back key allows the user to return to the first word and continue listening to its definition. A host of other features can be accessed by simply pressing the appropriate command key.

A thesaurus is available to assist in finding alternative words or synonyms, as shown again in this demonstration, using the word “rhythm.”

Sample of synthesized speech: “Synonyms, beat, cadence, measure, meter, rhyme, swing, cadency. Beep.”

There is also a grammar guide helper, which is divided into the same sections you would see in a grammar textbook. Here, the user investigates indefinite pronouns. He uses the arrow keys to move through a list, until the desired topic is located, and then presses the Enter key to listen to the information.

Sample of synthesized speech: “Indefinite pronouns. These…”

Another command key opens a feature called Confusables. This feature assists in word usage where the spelling or usage is prone to misinterpretation.

Sample of synthesized speech: “there t-h-e-r-e: yonder, their t-h-e-i-r: possessive, they’re t-h-e-y-apostrophe-r-e: are. Beep”

Pressing the Game command key brings up a list from which users can pick and even customize their favorite word games. Users, parents, or teachers can enter a list of words that can then be used when playing each of the games.

Another interesting feature allows users to press the Classmates key and as an example…find out which trees are in the same biological class as pine trees.

A good deal of thought has gone into the user friendly design of Franklin’s multi-featured Language Master Special Edition 6000. It is approximately 5 1/2 X 6 X 1 inch in size and sells for $450.

Franklin is currently the only manufacturer of talking dictionaries and the company also makes several other portable dictionaries. A less expensive model is the Children’s Talking Dictionary & Spell Corrector. This device has fewer features but still provides spoken definitions for students in early elementary school.

After confirming that they have entered the desired word, the user presses the Enter key. The device locates the desired word and the definition is displayed on the screen. The user then presses the Speak key and the unit reads the definition aloud. Although the user cannot move forward and backward through the definition, they can hear it spoken in its entirety repeatedly by pressing the Speak key.

Sample of synthesized speech: “Housing: buildings where people can live.”

Though lacking a few features available on the larger unit, the Children’s Talking Dictionary can be a useful tool for young students showing that even a low priced unit can be a valuable tool. The Children’s Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector measures approximately 4 X 6 X 1/2 inches and sells for $49.95.

At the time of this production, these are the only two models available that provide spoken definitions. Users will need to be very cautious when purchasing talking dictionaries. There are several models that use the word “talking” in their name, but which only speak the word entered, not the definition. Such devices are not as useful as the ones shown here.

There are also several computer software based talking dictionaries. While many of these programs are self-voicing and don’t require any special hardware or software to talk, they do require a computer.

Sample of synthesized speech: “House: found 14 definitions and 14 synonyms. Definitions: Noun. One. A dwelling that serves as living quarters for one or more families.”

Consequently, they do not offer the portability and flexibility of the hand held models discussed in this segment.