On 13th September, FITA organised an Information Seminar as part of the Maltese Speech Engine ERDF114 project. at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Balzan. A total of 86 people attended the event, including representatives from MITC, MITA and KNPD as well as many project partners, industry representatives, disability NGOs, and educators.
Following a brief introduction of ERDF114 by Mr. Stanley M. Debono, Mr. Matthew Gatt, CEO of MITA who also represented Dr. Godwin Grima, Chairman of FITA, spoke about the importance of properly managing resources in order to successfully implement tangible objectives and achieve the targets set at the outset of such demanding projects. Both Mr. Gatt and Mr. Joseph M. Camilleri, Chairman of KNPD, congratulated the small FITA team on consistently managing to work so effectively with other project partners and contractors like Crimsonwing Malta Plc and Fsadni & Associates. Mr. Camilleri encouraged FITA to continue to build upon its achievements and seek funding for future speech recognition projects.
Mr. Roger Davies-Barrett delivered a demo of the Maltese Speech Engine (MSE) and thanked Crimsonwing Plc and the many software evaluators, including educators, speech therapists and disabled persons, who volunteered their support in the delopment of the MSE. Mr. Debono explained that following the speech engine’s release on 26th June, it is now up to end users to make the best use of FITA’s helpdesk services, and report their user experience including any issues they encounter with its deployment . Mr. Debono added that many students and researchers will also stand to benefit from the less publicised electronic Lexicon which is part of the ERDF114 project deliverables.
The presentations by Mr. Carmel Gafa and Mr. Colin Vella from Crimsonwing Plc and Ms Veronica Montanaro from the Speech and Language Pathology Department proved to be very important in outlining just how the Maltese Speech Synthesiser works and how it can best interact with existing products for the benefit of end users, including disabled persons, preliterate/illiterate students and anyone seeking to learn Maltese.
The presentations were followed by three workshops focusing on Literacy, Accessibility and Communication. A number of participants came specifically for these workshops and many expressed their interest in implementing the MSE across their own area of work.