Maldivian tech startup "Javaabu" is collaborating with the Blind and Visually Impaired Society of Maldives (BVISM) to develop text-to-speech app with real-time audio feature for the visually impaired.
BVISM will fund the development of the application using the financing it received under the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Miyaheli Project. BVISM has already entered into an agreement with "Javaabu" for the application's development.
Speaking about the project, the Managing Director of Javaabu Mohamed Jailam said that the application will have the capacity to provide real-time audio corresponding to the text displayed on the phone screen.
“We are working to feature real-time text-to-speech in the application, which is its most important feature. In our previous application, there was a one-second delay in the audio output. While this might seem insignificant to some, it posed significant challenges for visually impaired individuals. Therefore, our primary goal now is to provide audio that is synchronized with the displayed text in real-time,” Jailam said.
He also noted that the UNDP Miyaheli Program funded MVR 300,000 will be spent on developing the application, with a target completion period of six months.
“We will be developing the Android version of the app first, and after that we will integrate it to both Windows and iOS,” Jailam added.
The application will have built-in feature of reading PDF documents in Dhivehi language, and provide audio description of photographed documents with Dhivehi text.
While TTS applications for English text are already available in the application market, this initiative marks the first development of a text-to-speech (TTS) application specifically tailored for Dhivehi content.
"The primary hurdle we faced previously was the extraction of information from Dhivehi text-based documents, which often required us to personally visit someone and have the text recorded. However, this app will greatly reduce these challenges and enhance the learning experience for visually impaired students," said Abdul Razzaq, the Organizing Secretary of BVISM.
While Javaabu is gearing up to launch a text-to-speech application specifically for the visually impaired, the tech company earlier in May, collaborated with "Mihaaru News" to launch text-to-speech option for Dhivehi articles published on their website.
The company also notes that the development of Dhivehi-based applications is still in the early stages and will require continued efforts to improve their functionalities. Javaabu said that they are actively working on delivering newer versions of similar applications with added features to enhance the user experience.