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Carnegie Mellon ­niversity Team Behind Smartphone, Tablet App For Blind

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Carnegie Mellon University professor Alan Black displays the text-to-speech computer program he and his team built.

A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a mobile app for use in India that converts text to speech.

Credit: Max Siegelbaum/Tribune-Review

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed Hear2Read, a text-to-speech mobile application designed for use 0n the Indian subcontinent.

The program functions by narrating a user's actions on their phone and reading screen text aloud.

The researchers programmed the Tamil language into the app, with Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Gujarati, and Punjabi to come.

The app is designed to aid in education and daily life, and the researchers made the code publicly available so anyone adding a language can use the team's work as a template.

The researchers note past smartphone apps have helped the visually impaired navigate public transit systems, shop for groceries, and sort dollar bills by denomination. The CMU team says text-to-speech technology is the most important feature of these apps, as they could not function without it.

They believe Hear2Read could eventually make these kinds of apps available to millions of Indians with visual impairment.

The researchers developed the app to work offline and designed it for Android-based devices because they are generally less expensive than iPhones in India.

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