The University of Malta (UM) and the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA) have recently entered into a licensing agreement, whereby the UM will be able to further develop the FITA-owned Maltese Speech Engine.
This Text-to-Speech Engine, which translates text to Maltese speech, has several applications and is especially beneficial to people with speech or visual impairment.
The agreement will strengthen the UM’s position in the field of Maltese Speech Processing, and will also enable researchers to share their expertise gained from the ongoing Maltese Speech Recognition Project (MASRI), funded by the University of Malta Research Excellence Fund.
The Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta will be hosting the Maltese Speech Engine Project on the principles of Open Science and Open Data and thus, in agreement with FITA, it will be making the software available to all researchers to contribute to its improvement.
“This project is valuable not only because it continues to show the University as a strong and important researching institution locally but also for its beneficial social effects on persons who will be assisted by the techonology: the ripple effect will be an improve the well-being of society as a whole”, said UM Rector, Prof Alfred J Vella at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding which took place on Thursday 13 February 2020 at the Msida Campus.
Furthermore, together with the Institute of Linguistics and Language Technologies, plans are underway to improve the Speech data that will be used in the Engine. The software will also be updated to better service the different communities that make use of the Maltese Text-to-Speech.
“We are very honoured to share this project with the University researchers, who I am confident will improve on the work already done, and who also share FITA’s goal of promoting a better quality of life for the end users”, FITA CEO Stanley Debono said about this collaboration.