Researchers from Scottish institutions, including Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen, and Capability Scotland, an organization helping the disabled, have developed innovative software to help kids with speech disorders, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities to more easily communicate. The software, called How was school today?, helps children aggregate and disseminate information via a touch screen coupled with some additional devices. Of course, this technology could also be applicable for adults struggling with similar disabilities.
The University of Dundee explains:
Dr Ehud Reiter, from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Natural and Computing Sciences said: ‘How was school today? uses sensors, swipe cards, and a recording device to gather information on what the child using the system has experienced at school that day. This can then be turned into a story by the computer – using what is called natural language generation – which the pupils can then share when they get home.’
‘The system is designed to support a more interactive narration, allowing children to easily talk about their school day and to quickly answer questions.’
This innovative project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and pupils from Capability’s Corseford School near Glasgow were the first to trial the new system.
Sue Williams, headteacher at Corseford said: ‘In the week we used the system we found it very useful to pupils, teachers, therapists and parents alike. It allows children to take control of the conversation without having to rely on help from us.’
Rolf Black from the University of Dundee’s School of Computing explained: ‘For a child with severe motor disabilities and limited or no speech, holding a conversation is often very difficult and limited to short one to two word answers.’
‘To tell a longer story a communication device is often needed to form sentences but this can be very time consuming, putting a lot of strain on holding and controlling the conversation.’
Press release: Pioneering Scottish technology empowers disables children