Friday 25th Nov 2011 – Dr Annalu Waller

Dr Annalu Waller – University of Dundee

Augmentative and Alternative Communication across the Lifespan of Individuals with Complex Communication Needs

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) attempts to augment natural speech, or to provide alternative ways to communicate for people with limited or no speech. Technology has played an increasing role in AAC. At the most simplest level, people with complex communication needs (CCN) can cause a prestored message to be spoken by activating a single switch. At the most sophisticated level, literate users can generate novel text.

Although some individuals with CCN become effective communicators, most do not – they tend to be passive communicators, responding mainly to questions or prompts at a one or two word level. Conversational skills such as initiation, elaboration and story telling are seldom observed.

One reason for the reduced levels of communicative ability is that AAC technology provides the user with a purely physical link to speech output. The user is required to have sufficient language abilities and physical stamina to translate what they want to say into the code sequence of operations needed to produce the desired output.
Instead of placing all the cognitive load on the user, AAC devices can be designed to support the cognitive and language needs of individuals with CCN, taking into account the need to scaffold communication as children develop into adulthood. A range of research projects, including systems to support personal narrative and language play, will be used to illustrate the application of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) in the design and implementation of electronic AAC devices.

School of Computing, Robert Gordon University, St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, Lecture Room C48, 14:15 – 15:15.

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School of Computing Science and Digital Media, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
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