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Project Objectives

This project proposes to apply a method to supplement (not replace) speech therapy for specific disorders at the articulation level based on an integrated computer-based system together with automatic speech recognition and distance learning. The key features of this proposal are:

(A) therapy is based on real-time audio-visual feedback of client's speech productions, while therapy sessions are designed for each speech disorder separately and tailored specifically for each client;
(B) speech production evaluation and interfacing to assistive technology is provided through automatic speech recognition based on statistical models of the data collected in the training/therapy phase;
(C) distance learning provides remote collaboration and data collection for analysis and evaluation in diverse conditions.


These features correspond to the major system components:

  • OPTACIA (optico-acoustic articulography) will visualise vocal tract configurations and trajectories through a tailored acoustic-to-articulation kinematic mapping in 2D or 3D. A therapist will be able to design a map, or select a predefined one, to suit an individual client. OPTACIA will thus provide the client with real-time visual feedback about her/his speech: articulator configuration will correspond to map position and articulator movement will correspond to map trajectory. It will be possible to re-use data collected during therapy sessions to re-train the mapping.
  • GRIFOS will be a speaker-dependent, small-vocabulary, automatic speech recognition system. Training data will be gathered through OPTACIA sessions, supplementing existing databases of material from similar client cases. In early sessions, GRIFOS will serve to set appropriate thresholds in OPTACIA to control acceptability of a client's speech productions and to analyse quantitatively these productions in syllable and word context during speech therapy. In later stages, it will primarily serve to evaluate client productions in continuous speech, with training material taken from OPTACIA sessions. For clients with severe articulation problems (e.g., dysarthria) unlikely to be fully resolved by therapy, GRIFOS will help stabilise production by providing feedback to increase production consistency rather than intelligibility per se. This will allow reliable interfacing to synthetic speech output and other assistive technology devices. Only speech synthesis (from already developed and available systems) will be used to test this functionality in the present project.
  • TELEMACHOS will apply distance-learning principles based on web database technology to provide the system's remote tutoring and monitoring ability. Telemedicine technology will enable wide application of the system and remote data collection and evaluation. It will facilitate remote speech therapy sessions as well as diagnostic and remedial information sharing.

The technological components necessary for this project are already developed to a functional stage and will only need relatively minor further development to become integrated into a comprehensive system. Efforts will focus on tailoring the application of the technology to the needs of the speech disordered populations, and on assessing the effects of the application on the lives of these persons and their carers, aiming to maximise the gains from intervention and the facilitation of communication, both for the short and long term.


The project will bring together research work relating to different languages and develop common tools and analysis methodologies. In that context, the final demonstrator will be a multilingual software system consisting of language independent modules coupled with language-specific knowledge so that extensions to other languages can be made in an effective way without making changes to the general structure of the system.


From the point of view of a person with a speech disorder:

  • OPTACIA will help eliminate misarticulated patterns and replace them with correct patterns (e.g., in the case of functional articulation disorders such as lisping, lalling, etc., and craniofacial disorders), create new speech patterns (e.g., in the case of severely hearing-impaired children), or improve the consistency of speech patterns (e.g., in cases of severe dysarthria).


  • GRIFOS will provide score-based reinforcement tailored to each case: from utterance to syllable to word and finally to sentence context in the first two example cases mentioned above, or toward consistency primarily at segment level and secondarily at word level for the last case. The adaptive criterion of acceptability will prevent client discouragement and allow gradual progress according to individual ability and rate of improvement toward the personalised goals. GRIFOS will also allow reliable interfacing to synthetic speech output and other assistive technology devices.


  • TELEMACHOS will allow continuation of high-quality speech therapy outside a clinical setting. Accurate evaluation and feedback will be available at the convenience of one's home environment, thus increasing rate of progress while reducing the total cost of therapy. Maintenance of progress will be possible after termination of on-site therapy sessions, while post-therapy evaluation will be available with minimum expert supervision.

From the speech therapist's point of view:

  • OPTACIA will provide an efficient audio-visual tool for teaching speech patterns. The need to describe complex articulatory configurations and gesture dynamics will be eased by the availability of visual trajectories and locations on a map representing articulatory-quantal regions in real time. The therapist will be able to visually guide formation of the required links between auditory processing, internal representation and motor planning and execution, helping the client learn correct speech patterns and eliminate faulty ones with repetitive rewarded efforts.


  • On the grounds that automatic evaluation will be consistent with expert speech pathologist assessment, GRIFOS will assist the therapist to evaluate clients' progress objectively, untainted by subjective individual auditory ability and free from habituation to client's particular misarticulated speech patterns. This will allow precise evaluation of phonetic production in phrase context as well as of production consistency.


  • TELEMACHOS will give the therapist time to see more patients and to acquire significant experience from the shared use of the OLP system. It will enable remote therapy sessions for clients unable or unwilling to go to a clinic. It will also allow remote assessment of clients' progress and modification of therapy parameters with instructions and feedback.

All these aspects will jointly contribute to increase (or even provide) adequate communication abilities and independence for the users of the system.