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12 May 2024

The Speech Accessibility Project, led by Mark Hasegawa-Johnson at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has begun sharing valuable data to improve speech recognition technology for individuals with speech disability, particularly those with Parkinson’s disease. Supported by tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, the initiative has provided voice recordings and related data from 211 Parkinson’s patients to universities, nonprofits, and companies.

Interested organisations can access this data by submitting a one-page proposal and signing a data use agreement. The shared data includes original speech prompts, participant responses, and detailed annotations about speech characteristics. This initiative aims to enhance automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems to better understand diverse speech patterns from individuals with conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke survivors.

The project underscores the importance of data privacy and security while encouraging users to publish their findings and acknowledge the Speech Accessibility Project in their research. This effort, rooted in the 2008 UA-Speech corpus, seeks to make technological interactions smoother and more accessible, significantly improving the quality of life for those with speech impairments.

By leveraging these datasets, Hasegawa-Johnson envisions a future where speech technology is far more inclusive, providing essential support to individuals affected by various disability.

For more information, please read Assisstive Technology’s Blog on the Speech Accessibility Project.