If, for whatever reason, you happen to find it difficult or tiresome to write your own text messages, Speak-A-Message offers you a very interesting alternative way of producing your own messages using your voice instead of a keyboard as input. Just record your messages, tell the program to turn them into text if you wish, and send them as an e-mail via your default client or upload them to your Facebook account straight away.
Clearly designed to be easy to use, the program’s interface shows a set of big icons that will give you access to its main functionality. From the initial window of the program you can just start a new recording right away by clicking on the red round Record button, play an existing recording, or enhance, edit, and send your voice messages in a snap. You can add up to 3 images or e-cards to your messages before sending them, append some more content to your e-mail, and even mix it with another recording. A list of recordings can be displayed by clicking on the bottom left part of the screen, and transcribe any of them into text by clicking on the option on the bottom right.
Though not explicitly mentioned anywhere on the website or in the program itself, this utility is clearly a useful little tool for persons with a severe visual impairment and maybe also for those who are blind. I say ‘maybe’ because I haven’t tried the program’s accessibility regarding screen readers, and some functions – such as View & Record – have a clear visual component. However, the field in which Inventivio GmbH carry on their professional activities (i.e., Tactonom, a tactile graphics display for visually impaired persons) makes me believe that Speak-A-Message share the same or a similar target population. Another hint came from the program’s ‘Export as e-book’ option available in the Voice Diary, which uses EPUB3 – the de facto standard for accessible electronic publications – as output format.
Be it as it may, Speak-A-Message is an excellent free tool that anyone (or nearly anyone) can use to produce e-mails – plain or enhanced with your favorite illustrations – in the most straightforward way, i.e., using your own voice. You can share your messages to Facebook directly from the program or send them via e-mail using your favorite client. The Professional version of the program will also allow you – for a fee – to record over an existing message, add voice comments to your standard Word documents, take and add screenshots to your recordings, keep an audio diary, and export it as an EPUB3 e-book.