Digital Plan For Irish To Include Speech And Language Technologies

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The Irish government last week introduced its Digital Plan for Irish, which will make it easier for businesses and state service providers to make Irish available as an option in their digital services to the public.

Among the technologies referenced in the new Digital Plan, there is a speech synthesis technology that will enable the Irish-speaking community to read out any digital text in their chosen dialect. In addition, Irish speakers with speech, language, or literacy disabilities will be able to take advantage of the technology to communicate effectively with caregivers, service providers and the world around them in Irish.

The Adapt Centre at Dublin City University and the Phonetics and Speech Laboratory at Trinity College are the main partners commissioned by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports, and Media to prepare the Digital Plan for Irish.

Along with speech synthesis, Trinity College Dublin has provided a beta speech recognition system through which Irish sentences can be spoken into a microphone and the technology converts the speech into text. Also included are several translation technologies and services.

“The results and new technologies which arise from this plan will benefit the Irish community as a whole, especially for those who use Irish in their work, for developers of language and educational software and applications, and for people with certain disabilities who wish to take part in activities through Irish. These technologies will have a major impact on the ability of the state and the ability of the business sector to provide services digitally and of high quality. This is a central goal of the government under the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish language and under the Official Languages Act,” said Minister of State for Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers.