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A Voice-Input Voice-Output Communication Aid for People With Severe Speech Impairment.

ABSTRACT A new form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device for people with severe speech impairment the voice-input voice-output communication aid (VIVOCA) is described. The VIVOCA recognizes the disordered speech of the user and builds messages, which are converted into synthetic speech. System development was carried out employing user-centered design and development methods, which identified and refined key requirements for the device. A novel methodology for building small vocabulary, speaker-dependent automatic speech recognizers with reduced amounts of training data, was applied. Experiments showed that this method is successful in generating good recognition performance (mean accuracy 96%) on highly disordered speech, even when recognition perplexity is increased. The selected message-building technique traded off various factors including speed of message construction and range of available message outputs. The VIVOCA was evaluated in a field trial by individuals with moderate to severe dysarthria and confirmed that they can make use of the device to produce intelligible speech output from disordered speech input. The trial highlighted some issues which limit the performance and usability of the device when applied in real usage situations, with mean recognition accuracy of 67% in these circumstances. These limitations will be addressed in future work.

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    ABSTRACT: Dysarthria is a frequently occurring motor speech disorder which can be caused by neurological trauma, cerebral palsy, or degenerative neurological diseases. Because dysarthria affects phonation, articulation, and prosody, spoken communication of dysarthric speakers gets seriously restricted, affecting their quality of life and confidence. Assistive technology has led to the development of speech applications to improve the spoken communication of dysarthric speakers. In this field, this paper presents an approach to improve the accuracy of HMM-based speech recognition systems. Because phonatory dysfunction is a main characteristic of dysarthric speech, the phonemes of a dysarthric speaker are affected at different levels. Thus, the approach consists in finding the most suitable type of HMM topology (Bakis, Ergodic) for each phoneme in the speaker's phonetic repertoire. The topology is further refined with a suitable number of states and Gaussian mixture components for acoustic modelling. This represents a difference when compared with studies where a single topology is assumed for all phonemes. Finding the suitable parameters (topology and mixtures components) is performed with a Genetic Algorithm (GA). Experiments with a well-known dysarthric speech database showed statistically significant improvements of the proposed approach when compared with the single topology approach, even for speakers with severe dysarthria.
    Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine 01/2013; 2013:297860. · 0.79 Impact Factor

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May 29, 2014