Talking to Computers & ENABL

Thank you to all of those on the list who have previously helped us in the ENABL project. This posting may interest those of you who use (or have an interest in) ‘speech input communication aids'(i.e. automatic speech recognition software – Dragon Dictate, etc). We would like to take this opportunity to announce two forthcoming meetings:
Talking to Computers I (User Meeting), Saturday April 17th 1999
Talking to Computers II (International Congress, July 1999
Please accept my apologies for the length of the mail, I will try and give some information about ENABL, and the meetings all in one go (as briefly as I can). The sections below contain information about:
  • The ENABL Project
  • Talking to Computers I (User Meeting), Saturday 17th April 1999,
  • Talking to Computers II (International Congress), July 1999
ENABL stands for: “ENAbler for computer Based tasks with Language and speech.” Essentially, the aim of the project is to provide access by voice (via Automatic Speech Recognition – ASR), to vocational software for custom-driven product design and configuration. By using such an interface, we hope to implement a system that is controllable by dysarthric speech of persons with motoric disabilities. This will allow such persons to enter (or re-enter) highly competitive and complex work environments, thus providing the opportunity of occupying challenging and respected positions in society.

The Voice Care aspect of the ENABL project is primarily assigned to investigating the impact of Automatic Speech Recognition system technology on the vocal apparatus. This is by no means an easy task, since many factors influence the way we use our voice, and thus the stress we apply to the vocal chords. By carefully monitoring users of ASR technology, we aim to identify features that will highlight those ‘more at risk’ to developing voice problems. Voice Care Guidelines have therefore been established to hopefully provide a better environment for the ASR system user (these are available at the above website). More general guidelines are also available, promoting the safe keeping of anyone’s voice – whether an ASR user or not.
The Talking to Computers meetings
The ENABL Partners would like to invite you to attend / participate in the two forthcoming events:
Talking to Computers I (User Meeting) – April 17th 1999
Talking to computers II (International Congress) – July 1999
The main objective of these meetings is to promote contact between all people who have an interest in speech input to computers (Automatic Speech Recognition – ASR), including:

  1. Manufacturers & Distributors of ASR equipment
  2. Researchers of ASR technology development/applications
  3. Therapists & clinical staff who may utilise ASR technology
  4. Organisations & Charities working for the benefit of differently-abled people who do, or might, benefit from speech controlled technology
  5. Employers who are considering use of ASR technology within the workplace
  6. Users of ASR systems

Talking to Computers I
In brief, the first meeting Talking to Computers I, will allow discussion of issues that relate to current and future systems allowing operation of other electronic systems (primarily computers), and, opportunities for work or day to day living via speech input. Manufacturers will also have the opportunity to demonstrate their systems.
In particular, we aim to meet the following objectives:

  1. Initiate discussion of issues relating to current and future systems that allow operation of other electronic systems (primarily computers).
  2. To discuss opportunities for work, or day to day living, via speech input systems.
  3. To initiate action for the formation of a ‘speech input users group’ (or ASR users group) for differently-abled people, and facilitating their input to the International Congress (Talking to Computers II) in the summer of 1999.

The morning will provide short presentation/discussion sessions on any issues relevant to the use of speech input technology. For example:

  • User experiences
  • Current and future opportunities for employment.
  • Current and future systems that facilitate use of assistive technology.
  • Looking after your voice when using speech input technology.
  • Future systems and needs.
  • Speech recognition.
  • Speech understanding and usability.
  • Any other relevant topic you may like to suggest to us.
If you would like to contribute to the meeting, please see the web pages for details (or contact me directly) – if you need more help/advice, please feel free to contact me. The afternoon session will include a workshop to discuss the possible formation of a ‘speech input users group’ (or ASR users group) for the UK. People who definitely have something to contribute to this, or have an issue that they feel needs to be addressed should let the organisers know that they would like to participate as soon as possible. Anyone who would like to contribute/attend this meeting is most welcome. There will also be a small exhibition at the venue with free access.

Talking to Computers II
The second meeting, Talking to Computers II, will be over a series of three days and will include an exhibition, an academic programme, and a series of ‘live’ (Oral) and video presentations. Again, anyone within the categories above is welcome to contribute/attend the meetings. Four main themes have been identified for the Talking to Computers II meeting, and we are now accepting abstracts\comments from anyone who would like to participate.

i) Challenges in ‘Talking to Computers’
This includes, for example, Human Machine Interaction (HCI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), the immediate and future improvements of commercial systems.
ii). Opportunities for Enablement/Employment
This includes possibilities for enabling/employing all people within the general community – especially differently abled people, use of speech with other modes of input to computers, potential for new employment, working practice gains or efficiency.
iii). Application(s) of Automatic Speech Recognition Technology
This includes, for example, descriptions of implementations of use of Dictation systems in the workplace or at home, novel uses, telephone dialogue systems.
iv). User Experiences of Commercial Systems that use ASR Technology
Individuals, or groups of individuals will have the opportunity to voice directly whether their experience of ‘Talking to Computers’ was good or bad, and to suggest how they would like to see improvements made to benefit their current/future needs.

Comment 1: Thanks for the info. I wish I could visit the conference, but will pass on details to other interested parties. Any feedback after the event would be welcome – will there be any on the website, please?

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