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On-line Talking Newspaper/Magazine For the Visually Impaired

FROM: Mike Evans

What NEED does this meet?
There are many ways for the visually impaired to hear the news - radio, TV etc. Yet local, manually produced talking newspapers all over the country show there is a demand for more. When I worked on one such newspaper, our listeners told us this was for the added coverage and depth that the printed news and magazines offered.

This proposal is to take this national.

Use technology to supply the voices. Companies such as Rhetorical (http://www.rhetoricalsystems.com) can take the printed word and convert it on the fly into quite listenable voice(try their demo on this text).
Then ask content providers such as national newspapers & magazines to supply the content. Bring the two together and distribute across the web on whatever terms the copyright holders require.

What is the APPROACH?
This proposal is to fill the gap between TV and radio news, and the audio book. The technology is now here to offer listeners access to in-depth but current editorial content.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Distributed as widely as the web (well - broadband web). Users can even choose the voice they are read to in.

What is the COMPETITION?
I do not know of any news / content services using voice synthesis technology. Hence I belive this to be an early adoption of the technology.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
This proposal requires a lot of giving and a fair bit of technical complexity. 1. A voice synthesis company must offer its software. 2. Media outlets must make their output available. 3. Considerable server hardware and bandwidth will be required. 4. The content must be catalogued and made available to users. 5. The distribution channel must be secured so that only those eligible can use it (a ceratin condition of the copyright holders).

November 22, 2003 | Permalink


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As Victor Meldrew would have said 'I don't believe it!'.
An article from the BBC news website posted today shows this idea has already been actively pursued by, of all people, Rhetorical Systems, themselves:
It looks like they are attempting to make a profit form the service so going to them with a not-fot-profit proposition will probably get nowhere.


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