Google, Apple, Amazon and all the major tech companies involved in the Speech Accessibility project

All the major technologies, such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft and many more, have started a collaboration with the University of Illinois (UIUC) for a speech accessibility project. The target relates to the most vulnerable population and aims to improve speech recognition to facilitate life for people with motor impairments, especially those who also affect the speech apparatus at the same time. The idea is to give life to different voice models that are not currently taken into account by artificial intelligence algorithms, and therefore do not allow the use of the most popular assistants on the market. Take for example people with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other diseases that affect speech. In this case, the audio interfaces that are usually used do not work properly, even if they are available to everyone. But something is moving in the right direction, in fact, as stated by Professor Mark Hasegawa Johnson of UIUC, “This task is challenging because it requires a lot of infrastructure, ideally the kind that only major tech companies can offer, so we created a unique multidisciplinary team He has expertise in linguistics, speech, artificial intelligence, security, and privacy.” To make life easier for people with disabilities, such as Parkinson’s disease to name one of the most deeply felt diseases at this juncture, the Speech Accessibility Project will collect speech samples from individuals representing a variety of language models. UIUC will recruit paid volunteers to contribute audio samples and help create a “private and unidentified” dataset that can be used by senior technologists to train machine learning models. Obviously, this is a long and complex process that will not be able to consider all languages ​​spoken at once, so the first working group will initially focus on American English. The project will also see support from outside associations such as the Davis Phinney Foundation and Team Gleason, but the hope is that it will leave the borders of the United States to provide the same services in the future to people with disabilities from around the world.

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