Starting a campaign to encourage Apple corporation to include support for Farsi language.

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Accessibility Advocacy

Dear folks,
Please read below my request and help make a campaign to see my requested features on IOS devices to be available in the next phase, meaning IOS 8 before it is too late and I have to wait another year.
This is an Email that I hope many of you kind folks can send a copy of it to Apple's Accessibility Section to make a change.
Thanks in advance and eagerly awaiting your positive responses and comments.
and now here is the text of that email/campaign/open letter.
Apple Corporation:
To Whom It May Concern:
Dear sir/madam,
I am a visually impaired teacher in Tehran, Iran.
As you may know, my mother tongue is Farsi or what people may sometimes mention it as Persian.
Unfortunately, not only Farsi as the formal language of over 100 million people is not supported as a keyboard on IOS devices, but also there are no built-in TTS softwares to be used on Voiceover as the screen reader software of IOS devices that makes it quite a gratifying and pleasure for blind folks to use such devices in their comfort.
Now Ciri is doing a great job in recognizing oral commands and converting them to either a written text or executable command on the devices mentioned above to even facilitate the process of accessibility more and expedite the equality and inclusiveness for marginalized communities and minorities including people with visual impairment as a large group of people with disabilities.
Well, what makes me feel frustrated and be desperate is that none of these miraculous features are available for people whose mother tongue is Farsi.
I believe Apple has enough knowledge and experience in accessibility as a leader in the market in this case to resolve the issues to which I am referring.
In order to accomplish in such a task, I have the following recommendations:
1. Please include a Farsi keyboard to be added to the list of user-defined keyboards whenever needed.
Lack of such a capability is of the reasons people may not consider purchasing IOS devices if they mainly use Farsi for their daily affairs including reading and writing on the net or composing messages.
2. Please either add support for Farsi via Text-To-Speech (TTS) for those in need of accessibility via Voiceover as their screen reader or let this great and unique Software to use third-party TTS softwares as its TTS.
This way, we may rapidly see either free or commercial TTS softwares on Appstore to be added to list of TTS softwares used by Voiceover and to add more functionalities to Apple devices.
3. Another option that I believe have been requested by blind folks a lot, is the capability of a dictionary for Voiceover by which people may correct mispronounced words and phrases in different languages.
This capability can also be used as a workaround by those people their language is not supported via TTS to at least make a dictionary that enables Voiceover to read their languages word by word until a better solution is found.
4. Nowadays, it is heard a lot that Braille support will be included as a built-in keyboard in IOS 8.
I hope Apple is willing to consider Farsi Braille users in this new innovative method too.
Anyway, to keep it short, let me hereby confirm that in order to reach my goals as stated above, I will spread out these words in social networks, mailgroups and other medias and will ask people to forward this text to
Accessibility team of Apple Corporation if they are in favor of the aforementioned recommendations.
If people have a positive approach about usefulness of what I said, they may forward the above text to the following Email address:
accessibility@apple.com
Looking forward to seeing great features including the requested ones in this email in the upcoming IOS 8 asap.
Regards,
A visually impaired folk in Tehran, Iran.

Options

Comments

Submitted by mario_hardrock on Friday, July 4, 2014

hi brother.

I am with you in this fight.
I've done my part.
Courage brother.
cheers.

Submitted by ali2013 on Friday, July 4, 2014

Hi brother.
Hope other folks will be of help in resolving those issues.
Keep up the good work.
Cheers

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Friday, July 4, 2014

Sorry, but access to IOS is limited in Farsi partially because Farsi is not supported by the text to speech or speech recognition software in use. This does not come from apple, but Nuance Communications (www.nuance.com). These people need to work on tts and recognition before it would work. In addition, it is currently illegal to export apple devices to Iran, so you could understand why Farsi support is not on Apple's goal list. I would support you in getting the Farsi translation, but I suggest you first request assistance from Nuance in creating the necessary software and then re-request this from Apple.

That's true that Farsi is not included on those TTS voices produced by Nuance. but please read carefully my request above.
Regarding my Request, what I ask is not only in favor of Farsi speakers, but also other people their languages are not supported by voiceover and those people nuance does not include their mother tongues in its TTS products.
I like to see voiceover is open to all TTS softwares including Eloquence, Acapella TTS group, Cepstral, Neospeech, AT&T lab, Festival, Dectalk and ESpeak.
This is the only reasonable way to cover tons of other languages and give their users in need of assistive technology, accessibility features too.
Meanwhile, this is the way that will bring lots of other choices for people that may prefer other voices while their language is currently covered under the policies between Apple and Nuance in using Nuance TTS voices by Apple.
Please support me and let me hear your effective comments.
Thanks.

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Friday, July 4, 2014

You have also mentioned Siri, which will require the use of nuances speech technology. Although other speech engines could be used, this would only be a start. I think it would be more productive to ask nuance to begin work on Farsi, which would be in line with their current programs.

Well, I don't think Nuance will support such a project cause they don't have a formal attendance in Iran and as a result, they cannot find possible customers and a big market here.
I still think that the practical solution is what I have written and recommended.
Anyway, Thanks for your empathy. Cheers.

Submitted by Vash Rein on Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hello,

I am also Persian. However, I had the luck of growing up in the USA and learning English. As someone who uses siri, the English dictionary, and English keyboards, I confess that I never considered the needs of my Iranian brothers and sisters until you submitted this post. I guess I just assumed that there was a keyboard and support for Farsi. Also, I assumed that Siri worked with Farsi.

I have submitted emails to accessibility@apple.com and requested that functionality for a farsi language for voiceover, as well as support for Siri, and other functionality be considered.

In truth, I remember being told by my mother that she had a farsi keyboard. But perhaps that has been removed or I misheard.

There is somewhat good news. Since IOS 8 will allow for any third party keyboard, a farsi keyboard can be developed and implemented. I did read that Apple was working to remove the sanctions imposed on the legal sale of Apple products and they have been beginning to make some progress (heard it was supposed to be within a year or two). I will search for these articles and post them as soon as I can.

Beyond that, I am very sorry for the struggles such as this. I feel it is very unfair that some have accessibility while others do not. If there is anything more I can do, please do not hesitate to ask and I will make every effort. The same goes for anyone else going through similar issues and trying to advocate for more accessibility.

My Dear Brother,
I am very delighted to see you and other folks show empathy and support this little campaign to grow and become fruitful.
In case of Farsi keyboard on IOS devices, there are three options:
First, using jailbroken devices that may use Farsi keyboards from Cydia.
Second, Using Arabic keyboard of IOS devices that use extra characters of Farsi in comparison to Arabic while holding your fingers on some characters as alternative characters.
Third, using some commercial softwares that claim to give you the possibility of writing in Farsi.
Anyway, I am very thankful for forwarding this email and hope others join in support of it to make a change.
My hat is off for you.
Cheers,
Ali, Tehran, Iran.

Submitted by Abouzar on Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hi there;
As a Farsi speaking disable IOS user, I fully support this campaign.
this is a valid request not only for Farsi speaking users, also all other iOS users who voice over dose not support their language.
I'm confident that mass public support will convince apple to take an adequate action toward resolving this issue.I encourage everyone to persuade friends ,colleagues and family members to participate in the campaign.
I salute everyone involved in this campaign,please accept my gratitude and appreciation.
Regards
Abouza Samiei

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I just thought you should know that siri is only currently available in eight languages, so Farsi, while I do hope it makes it into the speech engine and keyboard (I honestly don't know why it isn't there already), I don't think Siri will be forthcoming for a very long time. I would predict that the next languages to get Siri will be Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, and possibly Arabic. None of these are yet supported and all have a much higher apple customer base. Anyway, I'll contact nuance and see if they can tell me whether Farsi support is something they are willing to do. I don't expect much of a response, but you've got to try, haven't you?

Submitted by Khalfan Bin Dhaher on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dear Ali.
Thank you for your kind efforts. I highly appreciate your request.
I'll help you as much as possible by sending a request to Apple to support Farsi and improve other languages such as Arabic. I totally agree with your previous post, there should be support for more voices and synthesizers as mentioned above. You can always send feedback to Apple through their support page or by contacting the accessibility support lime for quick response.
If you need more help please feel free to leave a reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Cheers.

Dear synthesizer101,
Thanks for following up the issues mentioned in this post.
Well, I have contacted Nuance sometimes but no response yet.
So, that's why I prefer to be able to use other speech synthesizers too.
Meanwhile, I know that when you want everything, in fact, you get nothing.
So, I am not an idealist willing to see tomorrow everything is supported for Farsi speakers.
That will never happen.
I believe we must move step by step to see our wishes come true gradually.
Thanks for your quick tips and response.

Dear Khalfan,
Thanks for your kind words.
The only thing now we can do, is to encourage people to send that email to Apple's support team or accessibility section.
Please let others know about this petition to decide whether they want to support it via sending email to that email address, making a beautiful page on facebook, making an online petition and so on.
Keep up the good work.
My heart will go on.
Cheers.

Submitted by Khalfan Bin Dhaher on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hello Ali.
That's an awesome idea. We shall start this campaign before iOS 8 is out for public this fall. I was wondering, is Turkish similar to Farsi? If Turkish is supported, then Farsi should be supported as well in my opinion. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I'll follow up your request and update you with any news.
Warm regards and wish you a happy holy month of Ramadan.
Take care.

Submitted by ali2013 on Sunday, July 6, 2014

In reply to by Khalfan Bin Dhaher

Dear Khalfan,
Yes, Turkish is among those languages supported via Speech output by Voiceover on IOS devices.
In fact, Turkish is written with Latin alphabet.
So, there are no similarities between Farsi and Turkish.
In fact, due to similar alphabets we use in Farsi and Arabic, whenever voiceover meets a Farsi text, it'll be read aloud using Arabic TTS that in most cases is not understandable cause there are more letters that are not supported by that TTS and some words have different pronunciations in Farsi.
Please update me in any manner.
Keep up the good work and continue your support of this newly born campaign.
Cheers,
Ali.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why not just write accessibility@apple.com and kindly explain whyyou need this language? then show them this thread and the fb page? Please let us know your results if you decide to do this.

Submitted by ali2013 on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dear Marry,
Thanks for your great idea.
Well, as far as I know, dozens of friends in Iran and the rest of the world, are kindly and hopefully forwarding that letter to
accessibility@apple.com
to see a change in their policy.
Well, when I saw your comment, I wrote another email to that section, containing a link to this thread too.
For your information, here I copy that email too:
----------------
Dear sir/madam in Accessibility Section of Apple Corporation,
I am Ali, a blind teacher in Tehran, Iran.
Please accept my appologies.
I am not going to fill your mailbox with junkmails but I have made a
campaign to convince you, respectfully to ad support for Farsi
language via speech output to Voiceover for Blind/visually impaired
folks regardless of where they live but they are in need of Farsi
speech output/TTS.
Please keep in mind that Farsi is spoken at least in 3 countries as
their national language and even in the US there are almost 2 million
Farsi-speaking people from Iran while obviously there are some other
immigrants from Afghanistan and Tajikistan that speak the same
language.
Accept my appologies cause I planned a letter that is probably
received there dozens of times this days.
For your information, you may look at this thread to see the comments
on this issue too.
http://www.applevis.com/forum/accessibility-advocacy/starting-campaign-…
This thread is on Apple Vis, the largest reference for blind users of
Apple devices.
Meanwhile, we have made a fanpage on Facebook just a couple of hours ago.
The webaddress of that fanpage is as follows:
https://www.facebook.com/apple.addfarsitts
Please let us be seen in Apple family too.
We are not politicians that simply due to sanctions against Iran, be
neglected from accessibility features that our fellow-blind folks
benefit from them elsewhere.
P.S.,I may also consider making a campaign on
www.change.org
the most well-reputed website for making national or international
campaigns for free.
Hope this campaign will cause a positive change in your policies on
designing accessibility features for those in need of such adaptive
technologies.
Looking forward to seeing new and exciting features for Farsi-speaking
folks too.
Regards,
Ali, a blind teacher in Tehran, Iran.

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Well, it seems that the siri language options will be getting on the fast track. Of course, because Nuance still provides the code for this, Farsi is not among the new languages. Since I'm not allowed to talk about what will be included, suffice it to say my previous guess of four new languages was a little low. Also, a related language is included, so Farsi may not be out of the realm of possibility.

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Unfortunately Khalfan, Turkish is very different from Farsi. Farsi uses the Arabic alphabet, and is in the Indo-Irianian language group. Thus, the closest languages would be things like Urdu, which are also unfortunately not yet supported.

Submitted by ali2013 on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dear synthesizer101,
Thanks for your comments.
Yes, Turkish both in its alphabet and its relevant language family is different from Farsi.
that's right that Farsi is of Indoeuropean languages.
Well, up to now I think at least more than 100 email have been sent to
accessibility@apple.com
Hope it becomes more and more to grow the chances of being seen by Apple finally.