Design and Implementation of Amharic Text-to-Speech System for Visual Impaired and Blind Students.


Nowadays, it is common in many countries to use artificial intelligence (AI) systems to provide practical support for online learning and teaching activities. AI tools can make educational spaces accessible to all students around the world, even those with hearing or visual impairments or who speak different languages benefit. With a PowerPoint plugin like Presentation Translator, students have real-time captions for everything the teacher says. An example of such AI solution is Text-to-Speech (TTS) assistive technology, sometimes referred to as “read-aloud” technology, which reads digital text aloud. 


Additionally, TTS can help strengthen writing skills and improve a student’s concentration and mindfulness. According to UNICEF, nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide are not working in education or training, compared to 1 in 10 boys. The role of women’s education is crucial for the development of any country, especially third world countries like Ethiopia. In such a context, TTS systems can play an important role in enabling women to access education and improve their performance and skills. In particular, the impact on female students with sensory impairments is of paramount importance, as most TTS tools highlight words when read aloud, allowing learners to see and hear the text at the same time. This creates a multi-sensory reading experience and removes a major barrier to decoding reading and understanding language.



Multi-sensory is a teaching technique that engages more than one sense at a time and can enhance memory and learning. Recently, TTS has attracted a lot of attention due to advancements in deep learning. Neural network-based TTS models have outperformed traditional concatenative and statistical parametric approaches in terms of speech quality.Currently, text-to-speech is not applicable in resource-poor languages like Amharic. Amharic is the official language and used as a lingua franca throughout Ethiopia, and it is often learned as a second language by Rastafarians, who consider it a sacred language. 


The objective of this research project is to develop the Amharic TTS system, which is mainly used to address the issue of equity and inclusion of visually impaired and blind students in Ethiopia. Moreover, this project can be used as a plugin for foreign language tutorials translated into Amharic subtitles to play the subtitles in real time. In this regard, this project will make a great contribution to the current language barrier in the education sector.


LOCATION: Ethiopia

FUNDING: $45,000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Mr. Walelign Tewabe Sewunetie