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ERDF 114: Maltese Text to Speech Synthesis

Project Cost: €416,472
Beneficiary: Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA)
Line Ministry: Ministry for the Economy,  Investment and Small Business
Start Date: 2008
End Date: 2012

Non Technical Short Summary Of Project

The project developed a Maltese Speech Engine that allows all users and application developers to convert electronic Maltese text to speech audio output, whilst conforming to industry standards. When integrated within other software applications, it provided a Maltese speech interface for software. This technology has benefited disabled persons using assistive ICT

Operational Programme: OPI Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life ERDF
Fund: European Regional Development Fund
Priority Axis: PA6 Urban Regeneration and Improving the Quality of Life
Focus Area Of Intervention: OPIPA6 E-Accessibility

Project Objectives

The Maltese Text to Speech Synthesis (MT2S) will enable persons illiterate in Maltese to participate in the information society more fully through greater access to e-services. Greater access will be possible by providing Maltese speech output for existing and future e-services in combination with the use of assistive ICT. This group includes disabled and/or illiterate persons who presently have no access to Maltese text based electronic services. This mot only includes Government all e-Government services but also private e-services and websites. The long term impact is ensured through the speech engine maintenance agreement which will be integrated in the product development tender. This means that future e-services will be also accessible and usable to more users. Greater access to information society will lead to greater participation in the society we live in. This includes increased access to education and gainful employment for disabled persons in the years to come.

Project Results

Deliverables of the Maltese Speech engine software package consist of:1) computer based Maltese speech engine;2) computer based Maltese lexicon; 3) detailed developer documentation ensuring easy integration into future third party projects;4) test software demonstrating implementation of speech engine within a teaching and communication environment The end product will be a self-contained reusable software component that can be licensed to third party organisations (including business entities) in order to voice enable software that needs to produce speech output in Maltese. The project itself will also produce test products for educational and augmentative communication use., but the real milestone will be the core Maltese speech engine.

Project Purpose

The project will develop a Maltese speech engine and lexicon, conforming to the industry standard Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) and convert Maltese electronic text into Maltese speech audio. It will: 1) plug into existing assistive technology in order for disabled persons to access Maltese text content; and 2) enable third party organisations to voice enable software and produce Maltese speech. Society will be benefit through the availability of e-services that by relying on the Maltese language can be more user friendly for Maltese speakers. The fuller inclusion of disabled persons within the information society will benefit Maltese society as a whole by empowering disabled persons to gain better education and obtain gainful employment. This means that they will be far less dependent on social support services and also reduce the financial burden on the welfare system.