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ScanSoft Offers Visually Impaired People Audio Access to The New Zealand Herald

  • 02 December, 2003 12:38

<p>A new initiative between ScanSoft and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) provides The Foundation’s members access to a daily news service comprised of content from The New Zealand Herald using ScanSoft’s Speechify text-to-speech (TTS) software.</p>
<p>Unlike other audio services, the interactive service allows RNZFB members to select the stories they want from an extended menu. Text from the paper’s web site is converted via XML feeds into natural-sounding speech.</p>
<p>For further information or to discuss the service with Peter Chidiac, APAC Regional Director, Network Speech Solutions at ScanSoft, please contact Claire Plasto or Sally Robards from Howorth Communications on 02 9904 4533 or pr@howorth.com.au.</p>
<p>MEDIA RELEASE</p>
<p>ScanSoft and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Offer Visually- Impaired People Audio Access to The New Zealand Herald</p>
<p>- Visually impaired New Zealanders now have access to the nation’s largest daily newspaper using Speechify Text-to-Speech software -</p>
<p>Sydney, Australia – December 2, 2003 – ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT), the leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions, has deployed a speech-enabled daily news service for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) using Speechify® text-to-speech (TTS) software, a member of the SpeechWorks® Suite of Network Speech Solutions. The RNZFB selected Speechify software following a rigorous evaluation of TTS software to speech-enable its daily news service comprised of content from the country’s second-oldest established newspaper, The New Zealand Herald. This is the first deployment of Speechify TTS in the New Zealand market.</p>
<p>Accessibility through the telephone remains a top priority for the RNZFB, who has over 11,500 members, 65 per cent of whom are over the age of 65 and only two per cent have access to the Internet. The Speechify solution allows visually impaired people access to the day’s in-depth news at their leisure. Text from the paper’s web site is converted via XML feeds into natural-sounding speech in a male voice using Speechify software through a programme developed by the RNZFB. Unlike previous audio services where listeners would need to listen to the news in its entirety from start to finish, RNZFB members are able to select the stories they want from an extended menu.</p>
<p>“Broadcast media provides one medium of daily news, but it isn’t as comprehensive as newspaper editorials and opinion pieces. This solution provides our visually impaired members with equal access as their sighted peers to print media through one of the nation’s highly regarded newspapers,” said Mary Schnackenberg, RNZFB Divisional Manager Adaptive Support. “We were exceedingly impressed with ScanSoft’s responsiveness and willingness to help from inception. This ongoing interest and commitment assures the RNZFB that our news service will continue to be a sustainable success story.”</p>
<p>The RNZFB will continue to refine the service and will shortly introduce a female Speechify ‘news reader’ so that members can select whether they want to listen to the news in a male or female voice. Early user feedback for the service has been remarkably positive, particularly from Auckland members for whom local opinion expressed in The New Zealand Herald is most relevant. The RNZFB is currently negotiating feed from other news services which could lead to greater variety of content in the New Year.</p>
<p>“This application is an excellent example of how well Speechify TTS converts dynamically changing text to accurate and natural-sounding speech. We look forward to working with the RNZFB to further develop and support this innovative service as it evolves,” said Peter Chidiac, Asia Pacific Regional Director, Network Speech Solutions at ScanSoft.</p>
<p>ScanSoft’s Role in Increasing Accessibility for the Visually Impaired -
Working in partnership with several foundations around the world, including the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, National Federation of the Blind and Canadian National Institute for the Blind, ScanSoft has deployed speech solutions designed to enhance the lives of the visually impaired by providing speech-enabled access to news, information and services. In addition, ScanSoft is also working with leading financial institutions like CIBC Bank in Canadian and automated teller machine (ATM) manufacturers including NCR and Triton to speech-enable ATMs for visually impaired and blind users.</p>
<p>- ends -</p>
<p>About ScanSoft® Network Speech Solutions</p>
<p>ScanSoft Network Speech Solutions is the global leader in advanced network speech technologies and professional services. Enterprise and telecommunications organisations around Australia such as Centrelink, Singtel Optus and Qantas Airways leverage the power and innovation of the SpeechWorks® Suite of Network Speech Solutions to redefine the way they exchange vital information with customers and employees over the telephone. With a sales and engineering presence in more than 15 countries, ScanSoft is uniquely positioned to help companies create and implement sophisticated speech solutions that deliver proven economic benefits and the highest levels of caller satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.scansoft.com/network/.</p>
<p>About ScanSoft, Inc.
ScanSoft, Inc. is the leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions that are used to automate a wide range of manual processes—saving time, increasing worker productivity and improving customer service. For additional information on the company, please visit http://www.ScanSoft.com.</p>
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<p>ScanSoft and the ScanSoft logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of ScanSoft, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Speechify is a registered trademarks or trademarks of SpeechWorks International, Inc. in the United States and other countries All other company names or product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.</p>

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