The Speech Accessibility Project has begun recruiting adults from the United States and Puerto Rico who have experienced a stroke.
Interested individuals can register online.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, funded by major technology companies Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, aims to train speech recognition technologies to understand people with diverse speech patterns and disabilities. The project also recruits adults with Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
„A stroke can cause significant changes, including changes in your ability to speak. Our goal is to teach the AI to understand you as you speak, so that you can use the AI as support at work or in daily life activities. The Speech Accessibility Project is about empowerment; the potential for empowering individuals after a stroke is enormous and wonderful.“
Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, Project Leader and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois
The project has collaborated with the research team of Lingraphica to recruit individuals who have experienced a stroke. Mentors will contact those who wish to participate, review their speech, and help them understand and agree to participate.
Shawnise Carter, Senior Research Manager at Lingraphica and Speech Pathologist, expressed excitement in participating in the project, calling it „ambitious and necessary.“
„For people with communication disabilities, having access to technology that meets their needs is important,“ said Carter. „The hope is to enable individuals who have experienced a stroke to have access to smart devices and intelligent technology while reducing the frustration that comes from impaired speech recognition technology.“
She stated that the current technology is not suitable for people with speech disabilities.
„Creating a database that takes this into account makes a significant contribution to the field of communication science and disorders, and further research of this kind should be continued,“ she said.
Clarion Mendes, Clinical Assistant Professor of Speech and Hearing Science at Illinois and Speech Pathologist, added that the Speech Accessibility Project could also improve the quality of life for family members and caregivers of people who have experienced a stroke.
„Communication difficulties related to a stroke, commonly known as aphasia, vary in severity and their impact on individuals and their families. Language, speech, and cognitive processes may be impaired,“ said Mendes. „The inclusion of stroke survivors with aphasia and their caregivers in the Speech Accessibility Project is an exciting new chapter. There is excellent potential to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors and reduce the burden on caregivers.“
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology