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Joshua Young
Joshua Young

American Accent Training With 5 Audio CDs (3rd Ed)

The 3rd edition of the highly acclaimed American Accent Training, on 5 audio CDs, is for foreign-born students and business people working or studying in the US. Through extensive intotation and pronunciation exercises, you will learn how to speak with a standard American accent. At the same time, listening comprehension improves dramatically.

American Accent Training With 5 Audio CDs (3rd Ed)

Speak Business English Like an American GillettEN 1.055Book and audio CD featuring over 350 of the most common American English business idioms and expressions, with accompanying exercises and answer key; includes conversations related to various business situations such as running a meeting, discussing business decisions, performance reviews, etc.Total time: 48 minutes

One very important reason to fix your pronunciation is to show respect for other people. When you speak with a heavy foreign accent, other people have to strain to understand you, and that makes them very tired. When you speak clearly and correctly, you make life easier and happier for everybody you come into contact with.

2. According to voice actor Philip Shahbaz, Altair was supposed to have a Middle Eastern accent until voice directors made a last minute decision against it. After auditioning multiple times with a Middle Eastern accent and getting the job, he was told to drop the accent entirely causing Altair to have an American accent instead.

2. The opening level of the game was originally going to be a much larger Zero-G training facility with Warthogs and other vehicles. This level was going to serve as a way for the Chief to transport the giant bomb the Covenant left on board. This was replaced with a cut scene.

Simply converting a written test into a large-print, braille, or audio format or a computer CD-ROM does not automatically mean that a test is accessible. The test must be converted into a format that a particular student who is blind or has low vision already uses. For example, since a young child who is blind will not have learned contracted braille, a reading test for the child needs to be in uncontracted braille. A student with low vision who has enough usable vision to read large print and has never taken a test using an audio format may be at a significant disadvantage if the test is provided only in an audio format, rather than in large print. If a test is computer generated, a student needs to have some previous experience with the kind of software the test uses. If the application is not self-voicing, it must work with a student's screen reader. Students with low vision may want to be able to change the screen contrast or font size. The test obviously must work with the computer's operating system.

Ruth Loew, the assistant director of the ETS Office of Disability Policy, said: "Our ETS-owned tests include the GRE, TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language], the Praxis series (for the licensure of teachers), and many others, generally with smaller volumes of test takers. The ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], with which ETS complies, provides guidance in that accessible formats, such as braille and large print, are either available or can be developed for most ETS tests. In addition, tests are commonly available in one or more audio formats, such as reader, audio CD, or audiocassette, if audio delivery does not significantly alter what the test measures. If a test contains figures, generally a figure supplement, either large print or raised line, is provided to accompany any audio format. For its computer-based tests, ETS currently offers (depending on the particular test) some or all of the following: screen magnification, selectable color schemes, extended time, and extra or extended breaks."

ETS is beginning to use "evidence-centered design" (ECD) to help ensure the validity of scores when a test is given in an accessible format. According to Hansen, "ECD of assessments is essentially a way of designing tests to ensure that they measure what they are intended to measure. It begins with a careful analysis of the purpose of the assessment and with specification of the claims that one wishes to be able to make, on the basis of test results, about what a student knows and can do. It then specifies the performances that will provide evidence for these claims. ECD is beginning to be used to help test developers consider individuals with disabilities in defining claims and determining what constitutes appropriate evidence for or against the claims. For example, if one wishes to claim that strong performance on a test indicates that a student can decode words from characters, one should probably not allow the test to be read aloud, since doing so would make it possible to perform well on the test without possessing good decoding skills. On the other hand, if decoding is not an essential part of what the test is intended to measure, then the use of the read-aloud (or audio) accommodation may be appropriate. ECD can thus help ensure accessibility without undermining the validity or quality of the test results."

"I don't consider a test to be truly accessible unless the test taker can take the test independently or with a modicum of independence," Henderson said. "To ensure that a computer-based test is accessible for persons who are visually impaired, I suggest that it be designed for the medium from the ground up. Retrofitting paper-and-pencil tests for computer presentation is often unsuccessful. Test designers should write specific CBT items, the presentation of which will be enhanced or, at least, supported by the computer format. It is possible to do so if test developers follow general accessibility features, including making their software amenable to special technology. Simplicity is key: Make the program self-voicing, for example. Other important considerations are adequate training for the test administrators as well as for the test takers. No new or special circumstances should be introduced to anyone on the day of the test!"

De Witt and Associates is a New Jersey-based company that provides assistive technology training and publishes training materials. Its newest courseware title was Teaching and Learning the BrailleNote GPS: A Training Guide; consequently, I decided to review both the product and the tutorial together. (It should be pointed out here that Michael May is listed as an editor on the acknowledgments page of the guide, indicating that the De Witt and Associates editors, Kay Chase and Richard Fox, clearly collaborated with and received approval from the Sendero Group.) De Witt and Associates' courseware materials are available in print, braille, DAISY, and text CD formats. The braille and print versions are both spiralbound. The braille is in four small (8.5 by 11-inch) easily handled volumes and was the version that was primarily used for this review.

As with all the products we evaluate at AFB TECH, we examined the Reader from many perspectives. We looked at the tactile nature of the interface, as well as the quality and responsiveness of the audio output. We tested the battery life and available documentation and considered the device's overall ease of use. Finally, we tested the accuracy of the device using a variety of text styles and colors and in various settings. In addition, AFB TECH had a summer intern program of high school students who are blind or have low vision from the Huntington, West Virginia, area, sponsored by the Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, who worked on projects that evaluated a wide range of assistive and mainstream technological devices, including several cell phones, diabetes devices, and copy machines. These interns were able to use the Reader and give us their feedback.

Although you have to read the documentation and practice using the Reader to get accustomed to using the buttons to control all the features, it is not difficult to learn how to use the Reader. Aiming is the biggest challenge that faces new users, and we found that with practice, it is possible to learn to aim the camera properly. The Field of View Report and View Finder tools were helpful while we were learning to aim, but we rarely used them after we got the hang of aiming. Some people who have trouble keeping the Reader steady may want to brace their arms against something when aiming. The high school interns were quick learners. We spent an afternoon with them playing the audio tutorial and giving them a brief training session. All were then easily able to work with the Reader for the next two days testing various print documents, and they even helped give a demonstration to a local rehabilitation agency.

Just as sighted consumers identify with visual images--the face of a certain executive or an icon representing a product--people who are blind have a similar recognition linked to sound cues (like a song or a person's voice.) Then, add to our affinity for the audibly recognizable the fact that Mosen is from New Zealand. (We Americans have an exaggerated fascination with foreign accents--particularly those from other English-speaking countries. A pedestrian pronouncement seems somehow more sophisticated when we hear it spoken by someone from London, Sydney, or Christchurch than, say, Pittsburgh or Sacramento!)

But words like loyalty and betrayal don't come up just because someone whose voice you recognized changes jobs. No, the emotional level of trust and interest are tied, I think, to something far more basic. There is a serious marketing lesson here for any company hoping to sell products with large price tags to consumers who are blind. Customers who are blind feel a special kinship with Jonathan Mosen because they have come to know him, yes, and because they like his accent, yes, and because he knows a lot about technology. Mostly, though, people care so much about one man's job change because Jonathan Mosen is one of us: He is blind.

Dhrupad vocal concerts exhibit a temporal evolution through a sequence of homogeneous sections marked by shared rhythmic characteristics. In this work, we address the segmentation of a concert audio's unmetered improvisatory section into musically meaningful segments at the highest time scale. Motivated by the distinct musical properties of the sections and their corresponding acoustic correlates, we compute a number of features for the segment boundary detection task. Both supervised and unsupervised approaches are tested using a dataset of commercial performance recordings that is manually annotated. The dataset is augmented suitably for training and testing of the models to obtain new insights about the relevance of the different rhythmic, melodic and timbral cues in the automatic boundary detection task. We also explore the use of a convolutional neural network trained on mel-scale magnitude spectrograms for the boundary detection task to observe that while the implicit musical cues are largely learned by the network, it is less robust to deviations from training data characteristics. We conclude that it can be rewarding to investigate knowledge driven features on new genres and tasks, both to achieve reasonable performance outcomes given limited datasets and for drawing a deeper understanding of genre characteristics from the acoustical analyses.


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