A letter that I wrote to Apple - hoping for more support

Accessibility Advocacy
Hello, My name is Adi Kushnir and I am a blind person from Israel. I want to share with you a letter that I wrote to Apple today, hope that you will support me and if you have more suggestions on how to reach them, just let me know. Here it goes.. Dear all above, My name is Adi Kushnir and I am a blind iOS user from Israel. CC to this email is Eilana Benish, accessibility project manager and a low vision VoiceOver iOS user. She works with the ministry of education, and big universities and accessibility/rehavilitation related organizations. A specially, she guides Students at the Israeli opened university that are now in the high education place, and not only blind, but even students with other disabilities how to use your great stuff. We are writing to you on behalf of the whole Israeli blind and low vision community. We are writing to all of these addresses because we don't know who should we communicate at Apple, because I always tried to report and explain my situation to the Apple Accessibility team, and I didn't have any positive response for 3 years. We are really lost and don't know who should we pass this email on and how to cause Apple to listen to this crying and very polite asking for a very important feature. Apple always uses the great Vocalizer Expressive speech synthesizer from Nuance for it's iOS devices. Until Febuary 2013 there was no voice from Nuance Vocalizer Expressive that can speak Hebrew, but now there is. Since version 1.1 of this new TTS. The voice is called Carmit and you can access it from your Nuance Vocalizer Expressive SDK very easily. So we are not asking Apple to contract with a third party TTS developer in Israel – there are 2 of them that develop Hebrew voices that have been trying to contact Apple at past. As far as they tell us, atleast one of them, called Almagu with a TTS called Kolfix that they will make there best for Apple not to adopt the Vocalizer Expressive Hebrew voice for iOS – we hope that this is not the case. Just to let you know, Vocalizer Expressive Carmit is being distributed in Israel for a lot of platforms now, and people (all the blind and low vision people) think that it's the best Hebrew TTS that was ever developed thanks to Nuance and there hard work. They don't want to work with alternatives and they prefer to buy Nuance only. I work with an assistive technology company here called Let's Talk, and people call us each day and ask us "when will the dream will come true and Apple will adopt carmit to iOS so we can use our devices?" We can't answer them. At present, Carmit will be soon released for a Android system voice and we would not have any other choice then switch to this very bad and crappy platform and lose our great access that we've got thanks to Apple and VoiceOver on iOS. So we are not asking for a big thing! Just add Carmit to your system like you've incorporated Tarik, the new Arabic voice from Nuance Vocalizer Expressive. We are crying for this all the time, and will even have to make petitions with a website called Apple Vis, it's a portal for Blind Apple users. Apple is really the leading company in accessibility, but we are really lost! We don't know who at Apple we should talk to! Please Apple, do this one last step into your iOS 7 system! Carmit! Carmit! Carmit! Hebrew VoiceOver support! There are a lot of educational projects that we want to make with your great devices but we can't for this only one and so simple reason, the Carmit voice from Nuance is missing! Please help us and listen to our request! We are starting to be very disappointed. If you want, we can start a petition that will show Apple how many people in Israel need this! Please apple, give us this little thing that could change our lives in iOS 7.0! For you to built another voice in takes seconds, again, it's in your SDK! We hope that we've past this crying to the relevant Apple addresses. Thanks in advance, Adi Kushnir and Eilana Benish.



Submitted by Siobhan on Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello. First off, I applaud you for sending this letter, but I sincerely hope that it hasn't already been sent off. It needs a complete rewrite, using words that show you, the writer, have comprehension to ask what you're asking, in a way you'll be taken seriously. because using the word, "Crying" multiple times, as well as restating you would like the voice over and over, doesn't quite fit the bill of an intelligent response. I'm not Apple, but I would seriously rethink your position on the way to ask what you need. You do have a wonderful grasp of the English language, show it by not only respecting Apple enough to make sense in what you want, but trying not to push Android into some scary, I don't want to go there, but you'll make us, type of situation. maybe Android has it's good points, I haven't used it. But saying it's crappy is saying that you are forced into it because it's apple's fault. Also? Why is it necessary to CC the person you have? Sure she works with educators of the visually impaired, but if you're going to present a united front, you, on your own, need to email them. Also please consider not chanting the voice's name, unless you're going out for the pep squad. I hope I haven't offended you, but i'd really like it if you took the time to re-read your letter after these comments and understand i'm trying to help. If you'd like some help, contact me off of here and we'll figure out something. Siobhan

Hello Siobhan, Something important to remember here is that writing styles differ from country to country and culture to culture, especially if the language one is writing in is not the native tongue. For example, I took two years of Spanish in high school, and while I learned the elementary aspects of communication in Spanish, native speakers would no doubt find many issues with my written--and verbal--communication. Regards, Michael Hansen AppleVis Editorial Team

I think it's a good idea, how ever I think apple will not implement the voice. For one thing ios 7 is probably very close to release and for another thing they woudl have to contract with the maker of that voice. Frankly I do not see this happening at all, but good try and good luck. I think that a CC to your other person was a good idea as she or he can also write to apple and maybe help you along the way of getting the voice, if apple chooses to implement the voice. and if not know at least you tried.

Hello Michael. I want to apologize to you as a member of the editorial team as well as the original poster. I was in no way trying to disrespect the culture of that poster. granted things may come across differently in their tongue. While i still maintain that a rewrite would be needed, I'll simply delete the comment if that would be best advised. I was trying to help not harm anyone. If the original poster would still like help, I am certainly willing to do that. I'll delete the comment if you or another member should advise me of doing so. Regards, Siobhan

Well, good luck as I hope I sent in the last reply I sent to this thread. I really don't think the voice will be implemented, not this time around, but maybe if your country and vi comunity push there, even in hebrew if apple there can read it, i'd go for it. Tc.

Submitted by Adi Kushnir on Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello, First of all, thank you for everyone that commented on this. Just to explain to you why Apple can built that in without problems: They already pearchased this voice from Nuance. Nuance has a speech synth called Vocalizer Expressive which Apple uses. the SDK comes pre-loaded with all the 43 languages that Nuance supports, and the maker builts in the languages he need to. So Apple already have this voice, and they don't need to pay extra for it. I'm in touch with the Vocalizer Expressive development team because I work with a lot of big accessibility projects in Israel, and I helped Nuance to make this TTS from start. I mean the Hebrew Vocalizer voice. I also looked at the SDk and the voice is intigrated into the iOS SDK. So that is why we're all asking for it. because they have it already, they just need to incorporate that. Now, to the person that thinks that I should re-write this: 1. Thank you. 2. If you want, please contact me privately on the Skype name adi.kushnir or by email to adikushnir@gmail.com I will take any givven help. Thanks much! Adi.

Oh wow, so if apple has this already in their SDK, hopefully they can coment out some lines and hope it works, Probably not before the GM is released though, but again good luck and let us know how it goes.

Thanks for understanding. We are getting really lost here because we can't use our devices productivly and we've spent a lot of money on them! In Israel, an iPhone 4S 16GB causts about $800 USD. So now, when my family members need my phone and I have to buy a new one, I will think twice. for Android, I will have this voice in about 2 weeks ready from today. for iOS, it all depends on Apple. Android is a lot less stable for me and for a lot of us here in Israel, so we have to stay with iOS. but a very basic thing like this can't be done? For a big company like Apple, I don't think it's so hard, since they have it in there hands. I know that some Israeli TTS company tries to prevent Apple from doing so, because they want there product in but Apple doesn't, so they are trying to be a monopoly and say if this is not we, no one will be! But Nuance is the best out there, and Apple works with them for a lot of time now! It would be nice to see this voice for the Mac as well.. but iOS is the first important.

Hi adi, I've sent you an email. I'm glad you took my criticism for what it was, constructive. Good luck as others have said.

Submitted by AccessTime on Monday, September 2, 2013

In reply to by Siobhan

My name is Eilana Benish and I`m Project manager in Israel. I can understand the Concerns Adi Talks About/ I`m afraid that if IOS7 will not include Hebrew voiceover it will be very difficult promoting the use of the IOS device in the education system for students with disability in Israel and Especially for students who are visually impaired and blind And it would be a shame. The nuance Vocalizer Expressive works grate and more and more users using assistive technology including this voices and carmit voice in their use with screen readers such as NVDA. Such a use is giving many people the opportunity to access assistive technology equally. Hear in Israel the price for Assistive technology for low vision and blind people is very expensive and include the TTS that are not necessarily better. The very expensive prices for the assistive technology is preventing so many people from access them and use them. This is due to the fact that only a fraction from the low vision and blind people in Israel are Eligible to get assistance for purchasing assistive technology. The use of the iPad Does not require the purchase of almost any Assistive Technology and the use of the ipad can Allow greater accessibility for so many people. But the fact that IOS does not include Hebrew voice is a big barrier. And this point arises in every meeting and every attempt to promote projects incorporating the use of iPad in many education and social projects. I hope to see carmit voice in IOS 7 for the sake of people with disability. Best Eilana

Submitted by Zivan Krisher on Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hello, I'm an AT teacher at a community center for the blind in Tel-Aviv, Israel. This week I submitted a funding request for an iPad, based on the rumors that IOS 7 will come with the Carmit Hebrew TTS. If indeed Carmit will not be included with IOS 7, this will be a great disappointment. I work mostly with seniors and most of them do not understand enough English to use VoiceOver. I do have a couple of students that bring in their own iPads, but they have enough remaining vision to use it with Zoom. At the moment all I can offer blind students that just want to go online and use e-mail is a Windows PC with JAWS. A very expensive proposition. For many of them an IOS device with Hebrew TTS would suffice. There are Android alternatives in the making, but those would include buying a third party TTS. I also think that at the moment IOS with VoiceOver, offers a more mature screen reading solution then Android. If Apple doesn't release Carmit with IOS 7, they will lose the momentum in the Israeli market and we'll end up opening an Android class instead.

Submitted by Kyle on Wednesday, September 4, 2013

i do agree with some of the previous posts that this letter should be edited for more of a conventional English language way of speaking. i do understand the difficulties in writing in a language and how things don't exactly translate into what is conventionally said. i am learning Spanish in college and things don't exactly match up. from completely different grammatical and sentence structures, its a wonder anyone can learn English if it is not there first language. well, it seems that you guys are taking care of that. i also do feel for all of you in Isrial. if my native language wasn't supported in a speech synthesizer and i was just about unable to use something like an iphone, or android phone, i'd be pretty mad. however, i'd still like for all of you to do your research. android isn't all crap like everyone makes it all out to be. and you don't have to use jaws. if you get windows 8, narrator is grate, and NVDA is a free screen reader. and i think its better than jaws. find NVDA at. http://www.nvaccess.org

Submitted by Weary Mouse on Friday, January 3, 2014

Hi, I just stumbled over this letter and wanted you to know there are many blind people in the US who also want Hebrew speech on our Apple products. Even if we use English as our primary language, we still want to be able to access documents and web sites and apps that are in Hebrew. Some people I know have been discussing it, wondering how to push Apple. We had no idea how easy it would seem to be for them. I don't have any answers, but if you do start some sort of petition or if support from outside Israel would help in any way, even to let Apple know there are many of us who care about access in Israel and who also want to have Hebrew speech on our iPhones and other products, please let me know and I'll spread the word here. I'll send this to your email address also. Good luck