ROK Buys Textic

ROK Entertainment Group has bought text-to-speech provider Textic for an undisclosed sum. The Textic service, originally designed to automatically convert typed words on websites into audible speech, will be developed for mobile phones and eBooks, and will be re-launched as ROK Talk.

“The acquisition of Textic represents an enormous opportunity on many levels, not least for the benefit of the blind or partially sighted, but also for the under-educated and illiterate, as well as the millions of people affected by dyslexia, worldwide,” says ROK Chairman and CEO, Jonathan Kendrick.

Kendrick adds that in the US, it is law for all Governmental and commercial websites to offer text-to-speech functionality under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and says that ROK is aware that similar obligations are expected to become law in the UK and across Europe in the near future.

There are approximately 350,000 people who are registered as being blind or partially sighted in the UK, most of whom are partially or entirely excluded from the socio-economic benefits of the internet as a direct result of the lack of text-to-speech software on most websites. In addition, there are an estimated 1 million people in the UK who suffer from dyslexia or similar reading disabilities along with an estimated 5% of the entire global adult population.

Textic, founded in 2007 and based in Maidenhead, UK, has specialised in the development of advanced, assistive and creative text-to-speech technologies, which, in its various forms, converts web text to clear, human-like speech in a range of voices and languages.

Early adopters of the text-to-speech service in the UK have included County Councils, police forces in Northamptonshire, Kent, Sussex, Wiltshire and Staffordshire, the NHS authority in Great Yarmouth and Sheffield, Investors in People, the Gloucester Housing Association and the Downs Syndrome Association.