A letter that I wrote to Apple - hoping for more support
By Adi Kushnir, 1 September, 2013
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.