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ADAPT Joins Project Euphonia

Imagine walking into a dark room and shouting, “Google, turn on the lights,” and the light comes on. For many individuals with speech disabilities, using voice-activated technologies can be challenging to perform routine tasks because most of the existing technology can not compute the nuances in speech patterns for those who have speech challenges.  

The development of assistive technology has been revolutionary over the years to help maintain or improve daily living and provide additional independence for people with disabilities. Examples of assistive technologies and devices include wheelchairs, smartphones, smart home assistance, prosthetics, and specialized computer software and hardware that increase mobility, hearing, vision, and communication capabilities.  

ADAPT currently offers assistive technology throughout our TechWorks Center. TechWorks offers hands-on use of adapted toys and switches, adapted computers and peripherals, wheelchairs and inserts, augmentative communication systems, daily living devices, and much more. But there is still a lot more work that needs to be done to refine these technologies and ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from them. Luckily, companies such as Google are researching ways to improve technologies to help make life easier for people with disabilities and ADAPT is pleased to join Google in this research.  

Google launched Project Euphonia to train computers and mobile devices to better understand people who have impaired speech. This research hopes to enhance independence and social inclusion by improving voice-activated products for everyone.  

We are in the process of selecting and working with participants within our community to record voice samples with atypical speech. “The emotional response for Project Euphonia is great. Caregivers think that it’s a worthwhile project that in the future will be such a great help to people with disabilities,” says Tony Aversano a, Speech Pathologist. Our Speech Pathologists and staff are currently working with participants to help support these efforts and ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are represented and can use this new technology when available. “As a person who is helping to recruit participants for this project, I do not think there is a way to grasp the long-term impact. Participants are laying the foundation to help themselves and kids who may have the same need in the future. Being part of a project like this has a deeper meaning that will help countless people have a voice.” Jeisson Cardona, Coordinator of Operations.  

Current participants are grateful to be a part of this project and encourage people who can contribute to join and help with the technology development. “I feel proud because I can help,” says Alliah Almathil. “My experience on the project has been good. At times, it’s a little hard to record long phrases, but I would encourage others to participate as it will help the researchers collect more voice and help people understand them better,” Michael Geresi adds. 

Significant improvements to automated speech recognition technologies are possible. With more examples of atypical speech, Google researchers can analyze the recordings and better train technologies to understand people with speech disabilities.  

“The project means a lot to our community. It means that people with any level of speech impairment will be able to access and use speech recognition technology,” says Tony. We’re excited that our community will get the opportunity to be a part of this revolutionary technology that will help benefit them and others in the future. 

To learn more about our assistive technology or schedule an appointment, please contact techworks@adaptcommunitynetwork.org or 718-436-7979, ext. 711 

To start recording for Project Euphonia, please fill out this interest form. You can also find more information at g.co/euphonia. If you would like additional help, email Jeisson Cardona jcardona@adaptcommunitynetwork.org.

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