Mobile speech software to benefit blind users


Mobile speech software to benefit blind users

Arif Mohamed
New mobile phone speech software is poised to improve the working lives of many blind and visually impaired users, giving them access to SMS, e-mail, Wap services, contact lists and other mobile applications.

ScanSoft's Talks software can alert the user to e-mail, text messages and incoming calls, and turn menus, instructions and content displayed on the mobile phone screen into speech. The converted text can be heard through the internal speaker or an optional wired or Bluetooth headset. There is also a caller ID function so the user can hear who is calling without taking the call.

Vodafone will be the first operator to make the Talks software available on its mobile phones. Orange in France and Telecom Italia will also offer packages based on the software.The main UK distributor will be the Royal National Institute of the Blind.

Steve Tyler, strategic manager for digital technology at the RNIB, said, "Our objective was to bring about a revolution to mobile phone access, which is a cultural phenomenon that has taken root everywhere apart from the blindness community."

Peter Ryan, call centre analyst at research firm Datamonitor, said the speech technologies market is finally beginning to take off, particularly in voice recognition.

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