W3C Publishes Voice Standard For The Web

The international standards body's "proposed recommendation" for VoiceXML 2.0 means the specification has undergone public review and successful implementations. The step is the final review before the technology becomes a W3C Recommendation, which is commonly considered a Web standard.

VoiceXML 2.0 lets Web application developers create audio dialogs that feature synthesized speech, digitized audio, speech recognition, recording of spoken input and telephony. The proposed standard also enables recognition of audio signals generated when buttons are pushed on a touch-tone phone.

"VoiceXML 2.0 has the power to change the way phone-based information and customer services are developed," Dave Raggett, W3C voice browser activity lead, said in a statement. "In addition, VoiceXML 2.0 creates opportunities for people with visual impairments or those needing Web access while keeping their hands and eyes free for other things, such as getting directions while driving."

VoiceXML is part of the Speech Interface Framework that the W3C has been working on since 1999.

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VoiceXML controls how the application interacts with the user, while other specifications focus on other areas. The Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), for example, is used for spoken prompts, while the Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS) guides the speech recognizers via grammars that describe the expected user responses.

Other specifications in the framework include Voice Browser Call Control, which provides telephony call control support for VoiceXML or other dialog systems, and Semantic Interpretation for Speech Recognition, which defines the syntax and semantics of the contents of tags in SRGS.

W3C members working on the speech framework include Canon, France Telecom, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia.

*This story courtesy of Techweb.com.