Addon/function that reads out emails, Text To Speech?

I’m visually handicapped, reading long pieces of text is at best difficult, at worst literally painful.
Surfing the web, I am spoiled for choice with Text To Speech addons for my browser.
Can’t seem to find one for Thunderbird.

Today, once again, I tried to find one. Once again, no combination of search terms is a winner. Not through Thunderbird’s in-built addon manager, nor through the website, nor through the googles.

In my browser, I use “ReadAloud”, which will read a whole page top to bottom, or just highlighted text, with a button in the toolbar and an item in the context menu.

Is there anything like this, or functionally similar, for Thunderbird?
If it’s a stock feature, I cannot find it. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated.

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You do know there is a Zoom feature in Thunderbird?

  • Menu bar or button
  • View
  • Zoom Text Only, and use the Ctrl++ key combination to enlarge text. Ctrl+0 to reset it to normal size.

Have you tried a screen reader application?

Screen Readers

Firefox has a Reader View that some sites enable with a text to speech feature.

Might be a nice feature to have in Thunderbird for use when reading mail in a tab or new window.

I am familiar with zoom features, thank you, but font size is not the problem. I’m missing the right half of my field of vision, can’t recognize familiar words like a visually typical person would. Zooming in at some point actually makes it more difficult to identify words.

I’m gonna have a look at those screen readers. Tried one or two, but that was some years ago, the technology might have improved I guess.

I am also sight-impaired and use the Read Aloud add-on in the Firefox browser to read on-line articles. I’ve found that if I wish to have a long e-mail which I’ve received in Thunderbird read to me I go to menu, then click “Save as”, then click “File” then in the File Save dialog box that opens in the “Save as type” box hit the down arrow and select “HTML files” then save the file where you want it under whatever name you want. Then open Firefox. Go to menu, then click “Open file”, find the file you just saved, open it in Firefox and have it read to you using the Firefox Read Aloud add-on.

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Maybe you can write to and ask if there are any plans to make the Add-on “Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader” available for Thunderbird.

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That’s similar to what I do when I get very long emails, or long emails that are very sensitive. I’ll usually print to pdf, and then open that pdf in my browser.

If it’s too long to read visually, but not that long, I go to a message board I frequent, hit “post new topic” or “post reply”, and then copy/paste the text into the input field. Highlight, and Read Aloud reads it to me.
Should work with any input field for text. Works with the input field right here. Not that much of a time/effort saver compared to the other method, but it doesn’t clutter up my harddisk with files I know I’ll forget to sort away or delete when I’m done with them.

Just did. Thanks, the option hadn’t even occurred to me.
Will convey results if there are such to be conveyed.

So I got a response! And a good one!

Hello there,

I’ve taken a look at Thunderbird. Looks like we can add support for it with not too much effort. I’ll keep you posted on the progress

Kind regards,

Haha! It is here!
That was quick!

Good news! The extension is live on Thunderbird addons store. Please install it and let me know if you run into any issues. We’ll improve it as we go along.

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Just wondering how it is working out for you?

I installed and tested it in a test profile, but find the button placed in the toolbar to be too large, and it doesn’t read NNTP messages.

Well, it’s not quite ready for prime time, is it.
For one, it will read out the entire email, including all the junk at the bottom in the notification I got for this. A lot of “parentheses”.
I swear, when I had first installed it, I could highlight text, and there was the Read Aloud item in the context menu, and it would read only the highlighted text. Then that went away and I couldn’t make it come back.
Further conversation with the dev revealed that the code-injection necessary for that doesn’t quite work yet, and it’s a work in progress.

I don’t use NNTP, so no idea what that’s about. Maybe email the company, they responded quickly and were, obviously, spectacularly accommodating.

Also, it’s tricky getting used to the new voices. I had gotten used to the voices it used as default in Waterfox, but those were apparently bundled with the browser, ditto with Firefox obviously, so they aren’t present in Thunderbird.
There are, however, a ridiculous number of cloud-based voices to choose from, as well as premium voices. The dev told me that, if I try using a premium voice, I should be offered a link that lets me sign in with facebook or google creds, or a new account, and I’d get a million characters of premium voice free per month.
Not sure I need yet another account in yet another place, so I’m sticking with the free voices for now.

Do you know how difficult it is to bounce back and forth between apps when you are visually impaired?

Try putting on a blind fold and process with your process.

Disabilities should be considered in a web apps.

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