InterSpeech 2011

Speech Technology in (Re)Habilitation of Persons With Communication Disabilities

Björn Granström (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)

Speech communication research and speech technology has found many applications for handicapped individuals. One of the very first examples of an application of speech synthesis was the reading machine for the blind. It is natural that results and devices in the speech communication field can be utilized for (re)habilitation of persons with communication disabilities. AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication - has evolved into an independent research area with strong input from speech and language processing. In this presentation we will look at the development of the field from very early speech training devices based on speech analysis to advanced systems including robotics and avatars capable of human like interaction. We will show examples where pressing needs of disabled persons have inspired avant-garde applications and development that have eventually spread to more general use in widely used applications. In this sense the 'design for all' paradigm has been a rewarding and fruitful driving force for many speech communication and technology researchers.