I remember hearing Deane Blazie once demo a Braille ‘n Speak in Spanish, and thinking that was really cool. Later I bought a $100 add on, so my Braille Lite would speak Portuguese, but things then were way different than now. You had to completely reflash the firmware, there was no way to switch languages on the fly, and it wasn’t free. Now, with iOS, changing languages on the fly is free, easy and actually useful.
Some out there might say, I won’t ever speak a second language, why should I care? You can change the VoiceOver voice even staying with the same language, and With VoiceOver activities, you can automatically customize VoiceOver for a specific environment when you switch to it.
Here is how to set up being able to change the current VoiceOver language from the iOS VoiceOver rotor.
1. Open settings on your iOS device, and activate accessibility.
2. continue to the Voiceover button and tap it. That button will say VoiceOver on if VoiceOver is already being used. Tapping on it will not turn it on or off, just move focus inside VoiceOver settings.
3. tap on the speech button.
In here, you will find which voice is currently being used, a pronunciations button, and pitch settings.
There will be a detect languages, on by default, but this only works on the web, not when you have multiple languages in a file or chat.
Next you will find a heading called rotor languages, this is what we want. You could also have switched the rotor to headings and gotten there faster.
Under the heading will be all the languages and voices you currently have installed, and then an add language button. As I said before, you can have more than one voice installed speaking the same language, they will appear here also.
After pressing the add language button there will be a long list of all the languages supported, pick one.
For this demonstration, I picked Spanish, Mexico. The screen then went back to the list of languages and voices I had installed, with Spanish at the bottom. Now, when I rotate through my VoiceOver rotor choices, Spanish Mexico is now a new item under languages. If I had not added other languages and/or voices previously, languages would have been a new rotor option.
When the rotor is focused on languages, if you swipe up or down with one finger, VoiceOver will switch between the languages, and/or voices you currently have installed. If you only have one VoiceOver voice installed, languages will not appear in your rotor options.
Back on the language screen, at the bottom will be a button labeled: Spanish, Mexico, Paulina. This is the default VoiceOver voice built in for Mexican Spanish on iOS, if you tap on this button, you will see 2 more voice options to choose from. These need to be downloaded, but are less than 200MB so they won’t take much time to grab, or space on your iPhone or iPad. You will also see settings for default speaking rates and punctuation. I find these helpful, and for example have my VoiceOver speak Portuguese significantly slower than it does English.
For people who wish or need to switch between which languages they are using on their iOS device, this can be very helpful. Even if you don’t speak multiple languages, having several voices speaking the same language installed can still be useful. In my case, I have Alex as my default voice, and Samantha also installed speaking slower. I use this voice when in a bible app I read from.
iOS devices are used all over the world, being able to easily switch between languages almost as easily as humans can is more than very cool, it also helps those who do so be more productive and efficient.