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BT develops talking SMS for the blind

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BT wants someone with pots of cash to help it develop a talking SMS system for people with sight difficulties.

The monster telco developed a prototype that reads text messages after a chance remark from a visually impaired teenager visiting a project run by BT last year.

The 17-year-old happened to mention how being unable to read text messages made him feel socially excluded from his peer group.

His comments sparked a year-long collaboration between BTexact Technologies - BT's advanced research and technology business - and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

The result is a pocket-sized device that allows people to send text messages to a hand-held computer, which then 'speaks' the message so that someone who cannot see the screen can hear the message instead.

Although those who've used it say it is "a great idea" BT is now looking for commercial partners to help develop the technology and turn it into a viable retail product.

Meanwhile, a Glasgow-based Web site has recently opened its doors to provide news and information for learning disabled people.

I:XSEED provides easy access to information on issues concerning the local council and the NHS for people in Glasgow with learning disabilities, their families, friends and their carers. ®

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