The Speech Accessibility Project is Recruiting Adults with Cerebral Palsy

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The Speech Accessibility Project is now recruiting U.S. and Puerto Rican adults with cerebral palsy to train voice recognition technologies to understand people with diverse speech patterns and disabilities.

Funded by Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, the project is being run by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. It began recruiting people with Parkinson's disease last spring; with Down syndrome last fall, and more recently, those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. The project will also recruit people who have had strokes.

The university researchers are recording participants and safeguarding their private information. So far, the project has shared more than 100,000 speech samples with the Big Tech companies, and the data will eventually be available to non-profits and other companies.

Clarion Mendes, a clinical assistant professor of speech and hearing science, speech language pathologist, and member of the Speech Accessibility Project team, believes the project has important implications for improving quality of life for those with cerebral palsy.;

"CP is the most common motor disability in children, and including it in the Speech Accessibility Project is crucial," she said. "Removing some of the barriers to successful communication for folks with CP opens doors to new educational, vocational, and recreational pursuits."

"The goal of the Speech Accessibility Project is that every speech app, distributed by any company or university on any device or web page, will have heard several hundred people with CP before it is ever released as a product," Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and lead researcher on the Speech Accessibility Project, said.

Participants and caregivers will be compensated for their time in the form of Amazon eCodes. Participants will receive a total of $180 in three increments: $60 after recording the 200th sample, $60 after recording the 400th sample, and $60 after recording the 600th sample.

Interested in joining the project?Sign up online here.

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