Sakhr signs deal with Etisalat for text-to-speech

Language firm Sakhr Software has inked a deal with telco giant Etisalat that is set to broaden internet access for blind and visually impaired users in the UAE, GITEX Times can reveal.

Tags: Etisalat International - UAESakhr Software CompanyUnited Arab Emirates
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Sakhr signs deal with Etisalat for text-to-speech Jihad Salman, Sales Director.
By  ITP.net Staff Writer Published  October 20, 2009

Language firm Sakhr Software has inked a deal with telco giant Etisalat that is set to broaden internet access for blind and visually impaired users in the UAE, GITEX Times can reveal.

The tie-up, which is expected to be announced this week, will allow Etisalat subscribers to download Sakhr’s text-to-speech solution IBSAR. The programme, which is available in English and Arabic, converts the text output of a PC into audio so blind users can ‘hear’ what is on their screen.The IBSAR bundle is subsidised by Etisalat so will cost $19 a month, says Jihad Salman, Sales Director at Sakhr.

“The deal covers the whole UAE, and it means privacy for visually impaired users. They can work remotely with this, or access their bank accounts without needing help. It means independence for them.”

He refused to reveal the value of the deal, but said the programme is usually priced at $1,500.

Etisalat users who subscribe to the service for three years will then receive the software free.

The software is already widely in use in the firm’s home market of Egypt. A World Bank-funded initiative equipped 24 schools with the technology, while a United Nations programme has distributed the software in Syria.

A GITEX Technology Week veteran, Sakhr is also taking the wraps off its latest ‘speech to speech’ translation app S2S. Available for iPhone and Blackberry devices, the software records a spoken phrase, and then translates it to Arabic or English.

The firm is currently upgrading the software for business use, Salman says.

“This is a consumer app, but it is being developed for businesses. For example, a firm in Egypt could call a US company and the computer would translate the call in real-time,” he says. “Our goal is to connect the two worlds.”

Salman predicts increased demand for the firm’s translation software in the wake of the downturn, as growing numbers of Western investors look to do business in the Middle East.

“The sky is the limit. We have the blocks, with translation, text and speech, to build a lot of complex solutions to cover Arabic and English-speaking business needs,” he says. “We have a strong brand. We’ve been here for more than 20 years.”

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