In light of the serious problems with both illiteracy and information access in the
developing world, there is a widespread belief that speech technology can play a
significant role in improving the quality of life of developing-world citizens. We
review the main reasons why this impact has not occurred to date, and propose that
voice-search systems may be a useful tool in delivering on the original promise.
The challenges that must be addressed to realize this vision are analyzed, and
initial experimental results in developing voice search for two languages of South
Africa (Zulu and Afrikaans) are summarized