National Federation of the Blind Makes Newspapers Talk with SpeechWorks Speech Technologies

BOSTON, MA - SpeechWorks International Inc. (Nasdaq:SPWX), a developer of speech recognition and TTS technologies and services, announced that the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has gone live with its next generation NEWSLINE service, which uses SpeechWorks' ETI-Eloquence TTS technology. This free, electronic system allows users to dial NEWSLINE's toll-free number, 1-888-882-1629, to access news over any touch-tone phone and have it read back to them. "The system now handles thousands of phone calls each day from individuals across the country requesting up-to-the minute news," said Curtis Chong, director of technology, National Federation of the Blind. "NEWSLINE has been so advanced by the implementation of SpeechWorks TTS technology, our users can now enjoy being able to hear the news of the day. SpeechWorks technology has proven critical to the success of NEWSLINE." The National Federation of the Blind designed this sophisticated system to receive digital transmissions from newspapers on the morning of publication, reformat the data for conversion to synthetic speech, and upload it to the system. No computer or special training is needed, as the user can choose which newspaper, section and article to read with the use of a standard touch-tone phone. Callers can choose that day's, the previous days, or the previous Sunday's issue of each newspaper on the service. The menu provided allows the user to change the speed and voice quality, or search for words. The NFB selected SpeechWorks' ETI-Eloquence TTS software, as the technology supports multiple languages, high-speed reading and responsive speech capabilities (i.e., quick to start and stop). Content from more than 50 local and national newspapers is converted to synthesized speech using the technology from SpeechWorks. Top newspapers currently being delivered by NEWSLINE include: USA Today, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Toronto Globe and Mail, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others. "Now the non-sighted population has access to a fundamental source of information-the daily newspaper-in an easy-to-use, always available medium," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer, SpeechWorks. "We are pleased to be associated with the National Federation of the Blind, as the organization is doing so much to enhance the lives of people with disabilities."
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