Living in a digital age has made life easier, especially for those who have unrestricted access to the many functions and innovations of ICT, from computers to smart phones, tablets, and many other forms of modern digital facilities.

  • General

    Location

    General

  • European Regional Development Fund

    Fund

    European Regional Development Fund

  • Investing in Competitiveness for a better quality of life

    Programme

    Investing in Competitiveness for a better quality of life

  • €416 472

    Cost of Project

    €416 472

  • €354 001

    Total EU Allocation

    €354 001

However, for some, mostly those with special needs such as persons with impaired eyesight or hearing, the aging and the illiterate, the digital world might have complicated further their life and actually made them feel ‘deprived’.

To make matters worse for such communities, a second obstacle existed: the use of the Maltese language on digital devices was not supported by proper speech engines, as the latter were normally developed for the use of other, more diffused foreign languages.

In 2008, through the European Regional Development Fund, an innovative project was started to create the first ever Maltese Speech Engine intended to translate Maltese text into audible speech for thousands of ICT users.

Before this investment, a project proposed by FITA – the Federation for Information Technology Accessibility, many Maltese ICT users were unable to make the full use of technology as no such speech engine was available.

At the time, all text written in Maltese could only be read by an English language speech engine, which translated the Maltese text into badly pronounced speech, in many instances exceedingly difficult to understand.

FITA made the best use of EU funds, employing the best brains to do the necessary research before it could commission a software development company to produce the end product.

According to the research, it was found that some 44 per cent of ICT users at the time were in favour of having this additional help to make their life easier when going online or using their computers.

The project was completed in 2012 and today the Maltese speech engine is widely used and fully integrated in many online services provided, by both the government and the private sector.

From a human resources perspective, the new Maltese search engine has also enabled persons with special needs to integrate further into society, become more employable and be able to participate actively.

EU funds in this sector also contributed towards the continuous development of this engine as re-development and updating of the software, to make it more efficient, and an intrinsic part of this EU project.

www.fitamalta.eu

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