(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Disabled in Taiwan Get Help From IBM in Internet Access
August 14, 1998 (TAIPEI) -- IBM Taiwan Corp. and a local association
for the sight-impaired pledged to establish an "obstacle-free Internet
environment" for disabled people, to enable them to utilize computers
and enjoy easy access to the Internet.
|IBM Taiwan donated 100 units of ViaVoice Chinese voice-recognition entry
systems and five IBM Aptiva multimedia PCs to the Association for the
Development of Obstacle-free Technology (ADOT), founded by educators
for the sight-impaired. Blind students in college and high school will
directly benefit from these IBM products.
The Taipei-based ADOT is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to
empower disabled Taiwanese and enable them to tap into the immense power
At a public event, S.H. Yang, a blind ADOT member, dictated an email
message through a ViaVoice system and sent the message to C.J. Yang,
director of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) team, an ad-hoc
committee to promote Internet use.
The NII team hopes that 3 million people in Taiwan will regularly use
the Internet by 2000, out of a total population of 21 million.
"For the 460,000 handicapped people in Taiwan, support tools are essential
to gain obstacle-free access to the Net, for information and for a better
life," said Peter Shen, general manager of IBM Taiwan.
IBM's ViaVoice systems facilitates continuous voice recognition. A user
can speak freely and naturally into the system and enter up to 150 characters
per minute. Through a syntax analysis algorithm, the system selects
among phrases of similar pronunciations. After a learning period to
adapt to individual styles of speech, the recognition rate can reach
95 percent for a primary user.
Computer entry through human voice is a challenge in the case of the
Chinese language. The major difficulty is in the composition of Chinese
characters, which are formed by a number of ideograms rather than a
string of phonetic letters. Chinese entry by a sequence of ideograms
is cumbersome on a standard keyboard originally designed for the English
language. If an entry is made by voice, there are as many as 150 characters
with five tones sharing an identical syllable, thus requiring additional
keystrokes to select the desired character.
Such an entry method already poses some trouble for people with no visual
impairments, and it is an immense challenge for the sight-impaired.
IBM's ViaVoice is a big improvement in such technology.
ViaVoice contains a build-in dictionary of 40,000 phrases with an expandable
vocabulary for users to add up to 24,000 phrases.
"ViaVoice makes Chinese entry easy. I have found it to be invaluable,"
said S.H. Yang.
(Charlene Huang, Asia BizTech Correspondent)