Text analysis, simplification and text to speech using AI with more presentations at AAATE 2019

During July and August we caught up with collegues on projects with we have been involved during the last year because of our work in areas across a range of disabilities. The time culminated with a special thematic session on AI and Inclusion at the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) 2019 conference on “Global Challenges in Assistive Technology”.

student using a computer

Dr Chaohai Ding has been working on a Knowledge Transfer Project with MicrolinkPC (a specialist company providing Assistive Technologies and disability support. The project involved the use of the Natural Language Process and Deep Learning to develop a decision support system for assessors in the workplace assessment process. This involved training the AI model based on the free text extracted from many historical assessments and predicting the reasonable adjustments based on the difficulties and conditions provided by those in the workplace with a range of impairments. The aim being to offer an evidence base for stakeholders involved in the assessment process for the provision of the workplace reasonable adjustments. This ensures “workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, aren’t substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs”.

The results have yet to be published, but as Chaohai has admitted some text-based evidence, when related to disability, can be hard to classify to see where patterns are arising that support clearly defined characteristics to aid decision support.

Working on the W3C WCAG Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force (Coga TF) has allowed us to be in touch with John Rochford (Program Director and Faculty Member at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center of the University of Massachusetts Medical School ). He was interviewed on the AXEchat last month. (If you do not want to listen to the entire YouTube Video start 11 minutes into the conversation and you will hear about his work with AI and text simplification. ) John’s aim is to provide text on the web that can be easily read by those with cognitive impairments. He has called the project ‘easytextAI ‘ and is two years into the work and presented at CSUN 2019 on ‘Creating Simple Web Text for People with ID to Train AI

John’s work links in with Horizon 2020 EasyReading EU project that we have been involved with as a member of their International Advisory Board. This project also uses AI to provide support for disabled users of the web.

“The Easy Reading Framework is available as a browser plug-in or as a web app for mobile devices. With the help of the tools integrated into the framework, web content can be adapted to the individual needs of users in real time. The software offers (partially) automated support functions through the use of HCI techniques such as pop-ups, text-to-speech (TTS), subtitling by mouseover or eye-tracking. With the help of the tracking functions, eye movements and heart rates, it can be determined, among other things, whether the user is experiencing cognitive stress. In such cases, the Easy Reading Framework proactively offers support through the tools corresponding to the user profile. ” RehaData

Continuing the theme of text support, involvement with the A is For App EU project has resulted in more research into the use of AI in apps for reading fluency and examples can be found on the Microsoft Azure AI for Accessibility projects site.

Finally, we had a special thematic session at the AAATE 2019 Global Challenges in Assistive Technology: Research, Policy & Practice Conference in Bologna at the end of August. The full proceedings are available (PDF download) but in our session we explored the following topics.

  • AI and Inclusion: A Roadmap for Research and Development.
  • The four idols of AI for health and wellbeing
  • AI Bias in Gender Recognition of Face Images: Study on the Impact of the IBM AI Fairness 360 Toolkit
  • Machine Learning: Design by Exclusion or Exclusion by Design?
  • Accessibility and Stigma: Designing for Users with Invisible Disabilities
  • IoT-Based Observation Technology for Assessment of Motor and Cognitive Conditions in Children with Severe Multiple Disabilities
  • IoT-Based Continuous Lifestyle Monitoring: The NOAH Concept