Etisalat inks deal to bring internet to the blind

Language firm Sakhr says agreement will convert PC text into audio for Etisalat users.
Etisalat inks deal to bring internet to the blind
By Joanne Bladd
Mon 19 Oct 2009 07:09 AM

Language firm Sakhr Software has inked a deal with
Etisalat

that is set to broaden internet access for blind and visually impaired users in the UAE.

The tie-up, which is expected to be announced this week, will allow
Etisalat

users to download Sakhr’s text-to-speech solution IBSAR, as part of their internet subscription.

The programme, which is available in English and Arabic, converts the text output of a PC into audio so blind users can ‘hear’ what is on their screen.

The IBSAR bundle is subsidised by
Etisalat

so will cost AED70 a month, said Jihad Salman, sales director at Sakhr.

“The deal covers the whole UAE, and it means privacy for visually impaired users. They can work remotely with this, or access their bank accounts without needing help. It means independence for them.”

He refused to reveal the value of the deal, but said the programme is usually priced at $1,500.

Etisalat

users who subscribe to the service for three years will then receive the software free.

The software is already widely in use in the firm’s home market of Egypt. A World Bank-funded initiative equipped 24 schools with the technology, while a United Nations programme has distributed the software in Syria.

Sakhr is also taking the wraps off its latest ‘speech to speech’ translation app S2S at GITEX.

Available for iPhone and Blackberry devices, the software records a spoken phrase, and then translates it to Arabic or English. The firm is currently upgrading the software for business use, Salman added.

“This is a consumer app, but it is being developed for businesses. For example, a firm in Egypt could call a US company and the computer would translate the call in real-time,” he says. “Our goal is to connect the two worlds.”

Salman predicted increased demand for the firm’s translation software in the wake of the downturn, as growing numbers of Western investors look to do business in the Middle East.

“The sky is the limit. We have the blocks, with translation, text and speech, to build a lot of complex solutions to cover Arabic and English-speaking business needs,” he added.

For full coverage of GITEX, see
ITP.net

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