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UAA's LitSite Alaska program featured on Whitehorse radio station, CHON-FM

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

LitSite Alaska, an interactive Web site with a wealth of information, insights and stories about the history, diversity, culture and traditions of Alaskans, was featured on CHON-FM, a Canadian radio station out of Whitehorse, Yukon, on Tuesday, August 26. LitSite is bringing Native language and stories to life using IBM cutting-edge speech technology. Over 1,000 pages of text have been enhanced with audio files, using IBM WebSphere Voice Server text-to-speech software. These audio files even include uncommon pronunciations of Alaska Native names and words such as KwaashKiKwaan, Tlingit and Inupiaq.

LitSite Alaska, a project of the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Alaska Literary Consortium, funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rasmuson Foundation, is working to "teach" the software proper pronunciation. One of the challenges of using text-to-speech software is the uncommon pronunciation of Alaska Native names and words. The oral tradition, an integral part of the lives of Alaska Natives, is essential to learning and to passing on cultural knowledge and life skills. Taking advantage of IBM WebSphere Voice Server's flexibility and easy to use tools to create custom pronunciations is helping to preserve Alaska Native words and making them available to the world on the Web.

CHON 98.1 FM in Whitehorse, Yukon is a community radio station with a variety of music and informational programs for the First Nations population, the station serves much of the Yukon as well as several other communities in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. For more information on CHON-FM, visit www.nnby.net.

Below are links to additional news coverage of UAA's LitSite Alaska.

CNNMoney.com: IBM gives voice to the story and lives of Alaskans

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Web site to use new speech technology to save Alaska Native stories

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