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Adding Audio Feedback Cues To Web Forms


In Speech Synthesis API: computer talks I looked at how to use the Text To Speech portion of the Web Speech API to enhance error messages in web forms.

Since I wrote that the speech portion of the API is now supported in all major browsers so we can take a deeper look at two specific cases where the speech portion of the Web Speech API may be useful.

Audio feedback for forms #

The first example revisits the original idea of providing audio cues for form validation errors in addition to visual cues.

The example uses the following HTML:

<form id="form">
    <legend>Basic User Information</legend>
    <label for="username">Username</label>
    <input id="username" type="text" placeholder="User Name">
    <label for="password">Password</label>
    <input id="password" type="password" placeholder="password">

We feature detect speech synthesis by checking if the speechSynthesis exists in the window object.

If it does then we build functions for each message that we want to give the user.

The functions follow the same basic pattern:

  1. We create a new SpeechSynthesisUtterance object
  2. We add the text of the message in the text attribute
  3. We add a lang attribute to represent the language using ISO 639-1 codes
  4. We "speak" the message using the speech synthesis's object speak method

We will use these functions in the events that will handle the actual validation.

if ("speechSynthesis" in window) {
  function speakUsernameEmptyError() {
    let msg1 = new SpeechSynthesisUtterance();

    msg1.text = "The Username field can not be empty";
    msg1.lang = "en-US";


  function speakPasswordEmptyError() {
    let msg2 = new SpeechSynthesisUtterance();
    msg2.text = "The Password field can not be empty";
    msg2.lang = "en-US";


  function speakPasswordTooShortError() {
    let msg3 = new SpeechSynthesisUtterance();
    msg3.text = "The Password field must be at least 6 characters long";
    msg3.lang = "en-US";


We capture the input field into variables to simplify the event listeners.

  let username = document.getElementById("username");
  let password = document.getElementById("password");

In the event listeners, we perform basic validation and, if there's an error, we provide a visual cue by changing the border to red and speaking out the error by calling the appropriate function.

The password event listener tests for more than one type of error.

  username.addEventListener("blur", function () {
    if (username.value.length <= 0) { = "1px solid red";
    } else { = "1px solid black";

  password.addEventListener("blur", function () {
    if (password.value.length <= 0) { = "1px solid red";

    if (password.value.length < 6) { = "1px solid red";
    } else { = "1px solid black";

This is not production code by all means. The validation could stand a lot of improvement. We will cover a more robust validation system in a future post.

Using audio to help with navigation #

Just like we do with forms it should be possible to enhance navigation and other areas of a site or application with aural cues.

One of the difficulties that I see with this approach is that we may get accessibility issues with both a screen reader and the speech API reading at the same time.

I asked in Github and was told there was no conflict but I'll need to do more tests to make sure.

Edit on Github