8th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Geneva, Switzerland
September 1-4, 2003


Spoken Language and E-Inclusion

Alan F. Newell

University of Dundee, U.K.

Speech technology can help people with disabilities. Blind and non-speaking people were amongst the first to be provided with commercially available speech synthesis systems, and, to this day, represent a much higher percentage of users of this technology than their numbers would predict.

Speech synthesis technology has, for example, transformed the lives of many blind people, but the success of speech output to allow blind people to word processes, browse the web, and use domestic appliances should not to lull us into a false sense of security. In the main, these users were young, aware of their limitations, and of the substantial potential impact of such technology on their life styles, and were generally highly motivated to make a success of their use of the technology.

The speech community needs to be aware of the major differences between the young disabled people who have found speech technology so useful, and the other groups of people who are excluded from "e-society". An example is older people. These have a much greater range of characteristics than younger people and these characteristics change more rapidly with time. Very importantly for speech technologists, most older people possess multiple minor disabilities, which can seriously interact, particularly in the context of a human machine communication. In addition, a relatively high proportion of older people also have a major disability.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Newell, Alan F. (2003): "Spoken language and e-inclusion", In EUROSPEECH-2003, 1309-1312.