Group leads way in helping people to communicate
The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Research Group at Computing in the School of Science and Engineering at Dundee University is the world leader in developing intelligent and multimodal technologies.
The team works with the foremost companies in the field to support and enhance interaction for individuals with a variety of communication impairments across the lifespan.
Their work includes a £1 million research project that aims to dramatically change the way people with no speech and complex disabilities can converse with others. The project also involves Cambridge University.
Computer-based systems – called voice output communication aids (Vocas) – use word prediction to speed up typing, a feature similar to that commonly found on mobile phones or tablets for texting and emailing.
However, for those with complex disabilities, like Professor Stephen Hawking, using typing to communicate can still be extremely slow. With as little as two words per minute generated, face-to-face conversation can be very difficult.
Even with an average computeraided communication rate of about 15 words per minute, conversations do not compare to the speaking rate – 10 times faster – of people without a communication impairment.
It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million people in the UK alone are at risk of isolation because they are unable to speak and are in need of some form of augmentative or alternative communication to support them with a severe communication difficulty.