Unicef and “AT in Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities” at the UN in Geneva

two people at the exhibition stand
Questions about linking symbol sets!

On March 7/8 2019 we had a stand in the UN E building during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council This meant we met many interesting people from around the world thanks to an invitation from UNICEF in partnership with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria and other International Organisations in Geneva.

Twenty-one companies where showcasing their assistive technologies and services from alternative ebook organisations such as Bookshare and eKitabu to innovative wheelchairs, prosthetics and apps

Livox parrot logo

There were several companies that were using machine learning as the back bone of some their products for example Livox which is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app designed to work on Android tablets to help children to develop speech and language skills. The app uses machine learning to adapt to the child’s situation and user skills. “Through artificial intelligence Livox will learn user’s routine and bring information according with the use based on time and location.”

two childlike robots
Kasper and a friend

Compusult are working with the University of Hertfordshire to develop Kasper into an assistive intelligent robot to support children with social behaviour difficulties such as autism. Much research has been undertaken to show the impact Kasper has had on children and the most recent publications are available from the Robot House at the University.

AAC board with symbols
cBoard symbol chart

The UNICEF sponsored eKitabu service and cBoard app developers have been exploring the use of machine learning as a way of gathering data that can show how their technologies have been used. cBoard, uses open symbols and open board format and wants to see how their users’ speech and language skills develop as a result of using their app. This type of reporting and data collection can be found in an article about logging data by CoughDrop

(EPFL) Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne were showcasing some of their research into how technologies from eyetracking to robots could be used in learning situations supporting better MOOC design to handwriting. VerbaVoice has also been used in education to offer online interpreting for the live visualisation of language as captions and sign language. This helps those who are deaf and can be used for streamed language translations from the text provided.

The use of the internet to access software for the designing of affordable 3D printed prosthetics was also on show with Prosfit based in Bulgaria and ProjectVive from the USA showing how it is possible to 3D print the hardware that makes any tablet a usable AAC device with mounting kits, switches and amplifiers.

Finally Voiceitt was showing how speech recognition used with non-standard speech is possible . The system enables someone with poor articulation or dysarthria to turn their speech into text. There are examples of beta testers using the technology that has been funded by an EU Horizon 2020 programme.