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Cell Phone Reads to Blind and Dyslexic

K-NFB Reading Technology has announced a new line of mobile readers which puts text-to-speech technology into a Nokia N82 smartphone: combined with the N82’s high-resolution camera, the knfbReader Mobile enables users to take pictures of printed materials like menus, signs, notes, and everyday items have the material read back to them at the touch of a button. The combination represents the smallest text-to-speech device in history, and is a boon for the visually impaired, dyslexia, or anyone who has trouble seeing or reading print.

“Technology that enlarges the printed word or converts it to speech has dramatically improved the lives of millions of Americans with many types of disabilities, enabling them to read and comprehend printed materials to which they never before had access,” said Ray Kurzweil, President and CEO of K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc. “This innovation has created opportunities disabled people had never considered before due to the large amounts of reading required in certain occupations. The first machine of this type was the size of a washing machine. As optical character recognition technology is integrated into smaller and smaller devices, access to print becomes available almost instantaneously.”

Once a users has taken a picture of text, the knfbReader Mobile can either read the text back using a synthesized voice, or enable readers to zoom in and highlight printed materials on the phone’s large built-in display. The device also includes all the N82’s top-flight features, including music playback, an integrated GPS receiver, wireless communication, an integrated camera, Web and email access, along with calendaring and task management features.

K-NFB Reading Technology is a partnership between the National Federation for the Blind and Kurzweil Technologies. The knfbReader Mobile is part of a larger product line including the kReader Mobile, designed for use by sighted individuals with reading difficulties.