Rhetorical Selected by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB)
EDINBURGH, ENGLAND - Rhetorical and the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) announced a partnership that could increase information access for people with sight problems. Rhetorical's text-to-speech (TTS) product rVoice will be used to deliver current affairs and time-sensitive information, such as newspapers, magazines and TV listings, in an audible format designed to be fully accessible to the UK's 2 million blind and partially sighted people. Steve Tyler, RNIB's Policy and ICT Access Manager is blind, and knows very well how difficult it has been to access daily news without sight. "Since RNIB was founded in 1868, our main concern has been to ensure that blind and partially sighted people can enjoy equal access to information, especially leisure reading and the daily news," said Tyler. "For some time, we've been looking for a synthesized speech generator to help us achieve this goal. The development of rVoice is a revolution. It is the first synthesized voice that is capable of high quality, natural speech. rVoice will save RNIB a vast amount of time and effort. It would usually take one of RNIB's volunteers 17 hours to record the TV listings onto tape. Using Rhetorical's TTS technology we can now do it in less than an hour." rVoice builds on RNIB's work with the DAISY Consortium. DAISY (Digital Access Information System) is an international partnership working toward a standard for navigable talking books (by linking audio to specific places in the text). rVoice will be used to create navigable audio versions of new publications. "This is a very exciting partnership for us," said Marc Moens, CEO of Rhetorical. "Our technology has been used for everything from reading e-mail to training air traffic controllers, but this is the most socially rewarding development yet."