Federal Support for the Development of Speech Synthesis Technologies: A Case Study of the Kurzweil Reading Machine
Department of Humanities
This case study situates an early text-to-speech computer developed for blind persons, the Kurzweil Reading Machine (KRM), within a broader history of speech synthesis technologies. Though typically no more than a footnote in the technical history of speech synthesis, the KRM was still a powerful symbol of innovation that reveals how disability can be used as a pretext for funding technology development. I argue that various boosters held the KRM up as a symbol of technological solutionism that promised to fully enroll blind people into the US political economy. However, the success of the KRM as a symbol belies its technical flaws, the federal subsidies needed to bring it to fruition, and the structural barriers to its use that were elided by its utopian promise.
Information and Culture
Federal Support for the Development of Speech Synthesis Technologies: A Case Study of the Kurzweil Reading Machine.
Information and Culture,
Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/michigantech-p/17418