Cell Phone Software Reads To The Blind - InformationWeek
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1/28/2008
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Cell Phone Software Reads To The Blind

K-NFB Reading Technology's text-to-speech program will be available starting on the Nokia N82 handset.

K-NFB Reading Technology, a developer of assistive technologies, introduced what it claims to be the first mobile phone software that reads to the blind and the disabled.

K-NFB, a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind, is making its reading software available on the Nokia N82 mobile phone. It will be the smallest text-to-speech reading device to date, the company said.

The software is part of a new product line called Reader Mobile that includes the knfbReader and the kReader, which allow a person to take pictures using the N82's built-in camera and read printed materials. This is enabled through image processing software developed by Kurzweil.

"So many people already carry cell phones. This innovation is exciting because it puts all of the functions that users need into one product, eliminating the need to carry multiple devices. The Reader's simple user interface makes it ideal for the growing number of blind seniors," said James Gashel, VP of business development at K-NFB, in a statement.

The software reads text out loud to the blind. While those with disabilities can use the software to enlarge, track, and highlight content in documents directly on their mobile phone. Documents stored in a phone can also be transferred to and from Braille desktop programs.

Reader Mobile can understand most printed documents like letters and memos to pages in a book, as well as address labels and packaging instructions. It can also recognize U.S. currency and display sentences visually, highlighting reach word to simplify the reading process. The reading speed can be adjusted depending on a person's preference.

Additionally, the Reader Mobile makes various functions of a mobile phone accessible to the blind, such as video and music playback, GPS, wireless communications, photography, e-mail, text messaging, calendars, and tasks, according to K-NFB.

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