As you know, Myanmar Association of the Blind (MNAB) country has just joined some of regional projects to promote the access to education and employment for the visually impaired people. Two programs that Sao Mai and MNAB are joining together are 1) The Nippon-ICEVI Higher Education Support Program and 2) Overbrook-Nippon Network on Educational Technology so we have shared many common interests. We would like to share with you some updates about our trip to Myanmar to provide some technical support and consultation for their running programs. Below are some topics that we worked together over 5 days, from 18-22 July, 2016.
1. Computer training programs
We were reviewing computer training programs in different areas including curriculum, teaching methods and challenges.
We all agree to share our tech training curriculum and approaches to each training. From MNAB, Benedict (MNAB colleague, in charge of technology training and development) will be in charge of that and from Sao Mai is Cuong (our head of assistive tech team).
2. Online library
We worked with Benedict to review about his online library work. We had a day to work together on developing some new features for the library and exchange issues with solutions.
3. Burmese TTS
We sat down together with the MNAB people, Mr. Bobo (core programmer), Benedict, Kwai Nan (Executive Director of MNAB) and other computer instructors at MNAB to discuss, figure out the problems and give the solutions. In general, Most problems relating to NVDA screen reader were solved. Below are the issues we are working on:
3.1 Improving the speech quality for Burmese language with Espeak:
- Mr. Bobo will transfer all source files that he has developed and already trained Benedict to use the Espeak development tool (EspeakEdit) to improve the speech quality.
- Mr. Benedict will get in touch with a Myanmar person who is registered as the maintainer for Espeak NG for Burmese language in order to officially declare Burmese language in Espeak NG. This will make Burmese language supported automatically by NVDA screen reader for its future releases.
3.2 Solving the compatibility of Burmese language with Espeak NG
Mr. Bobo already got the source code for Espeak and guidelines from us to study on and program to add Burmese language for NVDA. MNAB will follow up this progress with Bobo and Sao Mai will provide technical consultation.
3.3 Sapi-5 TTS for Burmese language possibility
Based on what we have learned about the Burmese language structure during this trip, we think that we should give it a try to develop one SAPI compliant TTS for Burmese. This approach is not considered a high technique but it should give the users the human voice instead of quite robotic voice.
Thanks a lot for everything that MNAB colleagues arranged for us for this trip and we hope Myanmar blind computer users will soonly have more helpful support/training programs and a good TTS to use. All the best from us to colleagues at MNAB and keep your great work going on!
Dang Hoai Phuc/Executive Director and Le Nhat Truong/Assistant
Sao Mai Center for the Blind