Vodafone Expands Launch of Speaking Phone to Speech-Enable Handsets for Blind and Low-Vision Customers

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Vodafone is expanding its offering of ScanSoft® SpeechPAK TALKS™ application for blind and low-vision customers across Europe. 

Already widely used in several countries around the world, the Vodafone Speaking Phone is based on ScanSoft's SpeechPAK TALKS application, and provides blind and low vision consumers access to many of today's wireless services, including email, short messages, menus and contacts.   The Vodafone Speaking Phone is available on a range of Symbian Series 60 handsets in the United Kingdom, and South Africa, and it is intended to be introduced in a further six countries during 2005, including Ireland, Italy, Greece and Portugal.  

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 180 million people who are blind or have low vision, and the visually impaired population has expanded more than 50 percent in the last decade.  Vodafone Speaking Phone directly addresses this expanding population by providing a mobile phone that enables individuals to have access to information and common features on their mobile phones - from short text messages to caller ID -- read aloud to them in a natural-sounding voice.

Vodafone Speaking Phone provides users with the information they need, alerting them to messages such as email, text messages and incoming calls, and provides a caller ID function that enables users to learn who is calling without picking up the phone. Typical caller ID features are visually based, and force the blind or low-vision caller to answer the phone to learn who is calling.  With Vodafone Speaking Phone, the caller's identity is read aloud to the user in a voice that is configurable.  In addition, speech-enabled access to practical features, such as battery and signal strength, ensures that users can maintain the basic functions of the telephone. 

Based on ScanSoft SpeechPAK TALKS, Vodafone Speaking Phone provides a host of features designed to make mobile phones more accessible, and to directly meet the needs of the blind and low-vision community or provide accessibility to those who wish to become more productive through hands-free access to important information.  With Vodafone Speaking Phone, users can:

  • Hear caller ID information and check logs of incoming and outgoing calls
  • Write and listen to emails, text messages and notes 
  • Manage contact information and dial phone numbers from the directory
  • Use the appointment calendar 
  • Edit and add contacts, settings and profiles according to their personal preferences
  • Use the calculator, alarm clock and other important tools
  • Hear practical information about the battery level, network and signal strength
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