ReadSpeaker, along with Avalon Innovation, has added another dimension to email via an online text-to-speech service into email for all public schools in Gothenburg (Sweden). With this new feature, Gothenburg’s students can listen to the text messages in their email box (Google Mail). The service is available for 90,000 students, from preschool to upper secondary school and municipality adult education. ReadSpeaker, who are experts in text-to-speech technology, has, along with the consulting firm Avalon Innovation, developed the integrated speech-enabling service. “This is in line with our vision, which is to give all users the ability to communicate on an equal level,” says Niclas Bergström, CEO of ReadSpeaker. “We see an increasing need for this kind of service, and we believe it is a service that people will take for granted in an increasing amount of applications.” When the service is enabled, a Listen button will be added to each email message. When the user clicks the Listen button, the text in the email is converted into speech through ReadSpeaker’s unique method and then streamed back to the user’s device. The process takes less than half a second, and all that is needed to use the service is a device that can play sound. The integrated player streams the audio, and the user is able to control the reading, such as increasing or decreasing the speed. The unique feature also reads icons, images, and symbols. A big advantage of the service is that it is a cloud-based solution and completely platform independent. This means that it can be used on any operating system and browser, regardless of where in the world you are located. ReadSpeaker received the request from the City of Gothenburg in the spring of 2011. They had recognized a need to speech-enable their students’ emails to provide extra support to students who have difficully reading, such as those with dyslexia or visual impairments. The City of Gothenburg has been using ReadSpeaker services since 2004 to speech-enable their web pages. Therefore, contacting ReadSpeaker to explore the possibilities of this project seemed natural. “ReadSpeaker’s biggest advantage is our in-depth knowledge of how to apply text-to-speech technologies to online content, in this particular case to speech-enable web-based emails. We often take on such challenges; in this way, our products are constantly in development. We hope to continue to lead or be involved in similar projects in the future,” says Niclas Bergström. Watch a video about how the speech-enabled email works (in Swedish).