Mobile phone reads text to the blind

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Mobile phone reads text to the blind

A mobile handset released today is being touted as the smallest text-to-speech device ever created.

K-NFB Reading Technology, a joint venture between the National Federation of the Blind and Kurzweil Technologies, aims to help blind, partially-sighted and people with learning difficulties to 'read' text.

The software has been designed to work with Nokia's N82 handset to create the smallest text-to-speech reading device in the world.

The software turns the phone into a pocket-sized reader, enabling users to take a picture of most printed material and have it read back to them.

Blind users hear the contents of the document read in clear synthetic speech, while users who can see the screen and those with learning disabilities can easily enlarge, read, track and highlight the material.

The software makes use of the N82's large screen and 5-megapixel camera, and combines the best available character-recognition software with text-to-speech conversion technology.

The product includes Kurzweil's intelligent image processing software to enhance images captured by the handset.

"The knfbREADER Mobile will allow the blind unprecedented access to the printed word, affording a level of flexibility and capability never before available," said Dr Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.

"No other device in the history of technology has provided such portability and quick access to printed material. This reader will make blind people dramatically more independent."

The phone's expandable memory will allow users to store thousands of printed pages as well as transfer files to computers or Braille note-takers.

James Gashel, vice president of business development at K-NFB Reading Technology, who is blind, said: "The knfbREADER Mobile allows me immediate access to printed information, whether it be a menu or a letter."

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