Arria Supports Research Project

Arria Supports Research Project to Help Non-Speaking People Communicate

Arria NLG is supporting the newly announced ACE-LP research project at the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge, which is working with people who cannot speak and have complex additional disabilities (in addition to lack of speech), and helping them communicate better. People with such problems, such as Stephen Hawking, use tools which interpret motions they can make (such as lifting a finger or blinking an eye) as words and characters. Such “Voice Output Communication Aids” are very slow, as little as 2 words per minute (compared to 150 words per minute in normal speech), which makes communication slow and frustrating.

According to ACE-LP lead investigator Prof Annalu Waller, “What we want to produce, for the first time, is a VOCA system which will not only predict words and phrases but will provide access to extended conversation by predicting narrative text elements tailored to an ongoing conversation.” If successful, ACE-LP technology will enable people with severe communication impairments to interact much more fluently and naturally with other people, which will enrich their lives and reduce their isolation.

ACE-LP brings together several kinds of technology, including human-computer interaction, computer vision, natural language understanding, and natural language generation. Arria NLG, the leader in commercial NLG, has agreed to support the project by providing advice and insights about NLG.

Arria’s Chief Scientist, Prof Ehud Reiter, will sit on the advisory board of ACE-LP. Prof Reiter says “I have known Professor Waller for many years, and indeed we collaborated many years ago on another assistive technology project, How Was School Today. I think ACE-LP has great potential to improve the quality of life of people who cannot speak, and I am very happy that Arria can support this work”

For more information on Augmenting Communication using Environmental data to drive Language Prediction visit the Dundee AAC Research Group's website

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