Oribi Speak in brief
Oribi Speak is an extension to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (version 77 and up). The operating systems under which it works include Chrome OS (Chromebook), Windows, macOS and Linux1. Oribi Speak offers text- to-speech functionality, meaning that it uses synthetic voices to read out written text. This makes it useful when you are at an early stage of your reading and writing development or when you run into problems in that development, as well as when you simply want to have text read out to you on different occasions and in different situations. Oribi Speak appears as a green icon in the extension field at the top of the window, to the right of the address field.
Oribi Speak can read out text that you have selected on various websites, in PDF documents or in ebooks. It can also read out text that you have written yourself, for example in Google Docs or Word Online. In addition, the built-in OCR tool enables you to listen to text that cannot be selected, such as text in pictures. Oribi Speak uses high-quality synthetic voices from Acapela, which offers a wide range of voices in several languages.
Oribi Speak also offers writing support as you write. You can have each letter, word or sentence that you have just written ‘echoed’ back to you. Having the letters you write sounded out, or having the words or sentences you write read out to you, will help you by giving you immediate feedback on what you write. You can switch off this ‘reading echo’ when you no longer need it. Further, Oribi Speak has a built-in word-prediction function which suggests words to you as you write in Google Docs, in your email app, on websites, etc.
Thanks to a clever function which compensates for misspellings, Oribi Speak can suggest the correct word even when you have made a spelling mistake. If Oribi Speak is imposed on a Google domain, you access it by logging into Google’s Chrome web browser using your account. The text-to-speech and word-prediction functions require an internet connection to work, so a faster connection means shorter response times.
Oribi Speak is available in browsers highlighted in green below. Oribi Speak is currently not supported in browsers highlighted in red.
- Chrome OS: Google Chrome – Microsoft Edge
- macOS: Google Chrome – Microsoft Edge
- Windows: Google Chrome – Microsoft Edge
- Linux: Google Chrome – Microsoft Edge
Having text in a document or on a website read out
The text-to-speech function enables you to listen to text in documents, for example in Google Docs, or on web pages, such as on news sites. Use the mouse or the keyboard to select the text you want to hear, and then click on the green Oribi Speak icon or use a shortcut of your own choice to start listening. The app will immediately start reading out the text selected. If you are using a word processor, a further possibility is to put the cursor at the point where you want the app to start reading out. Once the cursor is in place, you click on the Oribi Speak icon and then on the Play button. There are many different voices to choose from in the settings, speaking not only English but also other languages. This means that Oribi Speak is able to read out words and texts that you select or write in, for example, French or German. If you have locally installed voices (some operating systems do), Oribi Speak can use them too.
Choosing a language and a voice
The language you are currently using is shown at the top of the Oribi Speak window. If you have added preferred voices for additional languages in your settings, you can easily change languages by clicking in the language- selection box. In addition, Oribi Speak is often able to detect the language your selected text is written in. Then it will automatically change languages if required. You add languages and voices in the settings.
Pausing and stopping the read-out
To pause the read-out, you click on the pause button (which is the same as the play button). If you click on the same button again, the read-out will continue from where it left off. To stop the read-out completely, click on the stop button. It is also possible to use various shortcuts to pause, start and stop the read-out.
Writing support as you write
Oribi Speak is able to offer you support as you write. This support consists of speech support (letter sounding, word reading and sentence reading) and word prediction. Each of them can be toggled on and off in the Oribi Speak window. To specify exactly what speech support you want, you must go to the settings. For example, you may want Oribi Speak to read out each word you write but not sound out each letter key you press or read out each sentence you complete.
You can have Oribi Speak read out the name of each letter key that you press. Such a ‘sounding keyboard’ offers immediate sound feedback, which may be of crucial importance if you are at an early stage of your reading and writing development or if you have reading and writing difficulties. The sounding-out of individual letters does not require an internet connection.
Reading of words and sentences
When you are writing a text, the Oribi Speak text-to-speech function allows you to listen to each word and sentence once you have finished writing them. Each time you press the space bar, the last word and/or sentence you wrote will immediately be read out. Listening to the word or sentence gives you immediate feedback on how you wrote it. For example, you can often hear if you pressed a wrong key, misspelled a word or made a syntax mistake. If you want to listen to a larger chunk of the text that you have written, just select a text passage and click on the Oribi Speak icon.
Oribi Speak contains a word-prediction function for the following languages: English, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian (Bokmål). This function suggests words as you write. Select your language in the language- selection box in the Oribi Speak window.
You may have up to nine different words suggested after writing a single letter. Oribi Speak also offers ‘pair prediction’, meaning that the words it suggests depend on the words you just wrote. To paste a suggested word into your text, you either click on it or use a keyboard shortcut. The paste shortcut is [Alt + number] on PCs and Macs, and [Shift + Alt + number] for Chrome OS. To have a suggestion read out before you paste it, click on the little play button to the right of the word. The word-prediction window normally follows your cursor as you write. However, you can easily put the window elsewhere if you like. To go back to having the window follow your cursor, click on the little push pin in the top left corner of the window.
There are two ways to deactivate the word-prediction function. One is to click on the cross in the top right corner of the word-prediction window and the other is to deactivate directly in the Oribi Speak window. For additional settings relating to the behaviour of the word-prediction function, see the section about Word prediction.
Compensation for misspellings
The word-prediction function is also able to compensate for misspellings. This means that it may suggest the correct word even if you have misspelled the first part of it. For example, if you start writing xxxx it will still suggest xxxx. If Oribi Speak suggests words which are not included in its wordlist (such as compounds), they will be written in red. However, you insert them in exactly the same way – by clicking on them or by using a keyboard shortcut.
Having text in pictures or PDF files read out (using OCR)
Oribi Speak includes a tool for optical character recognition (OCR). This makes it possible to have text read out even when you cannot select it. Examples include text in images or photos as well as pictures and text in the preview mode in Google Drive or OneDrive. To have such text read out, you first click on the Oribi Speak icon and select OCR.
Then you choose the text that you want to listen to by drawing a box around it using the mouse. Oribi Speak will now convert the image into text and read it out using your pre-selected text-to-speech voice.
Reading out PDF files and ebooks
PDF files and ebooks (EPUB files) are in a different type of format from ordinary web pages. It is usually not possible to have them read out simply by clicking on the Oribi Speak icon. Instead, you first select the passage of the text that you want to listen to. Then you right-click on the text. In the box that appears, you choose the Oribi Speak option Speak selected text.
To have a PDF file read out in the preview mode in Google Drive, Gmail or OneDrive, you can either use the OCR tool directly or first download the PDF file to your computer, then open it in your web browser and then select text, right-click on it and choose Speak selected text.
If, for some reason, Oribi Speak loses access to the server, the Oribi Speak icon will turn red. Then Oribi Speak will not work (except for letter sounding and locally installed text-to-speech voices). Try refreshing the page, check your internet connection or try again a little later.
Oribi Speak settings
To change settings in Oribi Speak, you either right-click on the Oribi Speak icon and select Options or you click in the language-selection box of the Oribi Speak window and scroll all the way down to Settings.
Reading out Speech
Activating Speech gives you reading support as you write. Tick the boxes in the list to receive the combination of support types that you prefer.
Letter sounds when writing: All letters are sounded out as you write.
Read out the last word: The last word you wrote is read out after you press the space bar.
Read out the last sentence: The last sentence you wrote is read out in its entirety after you write a full stop (period), a question mark or an exclamation mark and then press the space bar.
Under Speed, you adjust the speech rate to suit you. It is also possible to add a shortcut enabling you to increase or reduce the speech rate while Oribi Speak is reading something out, for example [Alt + up arrow/down
If you want to be able to control parts of Oribi Speak from the keyboard, you can add your own shortcuts. For example, you may add shortcuts for starting the read-out by activating Oribi Speak, for increasing and reducing the speech rate and for stopping the read-out. Just click on HotKey commands and enter your preferred key combinations (for example [Alt + H]) in the various fields. Computers differ in the key combinations that they allow.
The language-recognition function enables Oribi Speak to identify the language of your text, so that when you start the read-out it will automatically be in the correct language. However, the language-recognition function is only able to use languages that have been activated. You activate them in the settings. The word-prediction function also pays attention to what language you are using, meaning that it is able to shift automatically between the languages available. However, you have to write a couple of sentences before it will make an automatic shift.
If you activate cursor tracking, your sentences will be marked as they are being read out. This makes it easier for you to know what part of the text you are listening to at a particular moment.
Under the Voices tab, you can add languages and voices that you want to use when having text read out. Once you have added languages and voices, you can access them directly as options in the Oribi Speak window, easily switching between languages and voices. Click on the speaker icon next to a voice to hear what it sounds like before you activate it.
The list also includes any locally installed voices. Those have a special symbol to the left of the speaker icon and work even when your computer is offline.
The word-prediction function is able to suggest words in English, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian (Bokmål). Language settings for the word- prediction function are made directly under the language-selection box in the Oribi Speak window.
Add space after chosen word: Tick this box if you want the app to automatically add a space after pasting a word you have chosen into your text.
Small wordlist: By choosing the small wordlist, you restrict the suggested words to those included in a wordlist of about 60,000 words. This may be useful if you write rather simple texts and do not have much need for unusual words.
Large wordlist: The large wordlist contains several hundred thousand words. If you choose it, you will receive many more suggested words than if you use the small wordlist.
Adding words to the wordlist
If you would like Oribi Speak to be able to suggest certain words that are not included in the wordlist, you just add them to the wordlist.
Length of the shortest suggested words
You can determine the length of the words that you want Oribi Speak to suggest. For example, if you do not want it to suggest words with fewer than four letters, you push the slide to 4. If you want to have all words suggested to you, including single-letter words, you move the slide to 1.
Here you find information about the app such as the version number, the licence number, the type of licence and the period of validity of the licence.
Google Chrome: Go to the Google Chrome menu > More Tools > Extensions. Find Oribi Speak among your extensions and click on Remove.
Microsoft Edge: Go to the Microsoft Edge menu > Extensions. Find Oribi Speak and click on Remove.