Why speech interfaces are the future of assistive technology

At SpeechAngel, we’re enabling people by giving them power through their voice.

This is an article by Professor Teixeira at the university Aveiro on the importance of speech interfaces when dealing with mobility limitations: 00b7d5182a5bea156b000000-2

It’s a fantastic insight into how this technology can help change millions of lives.

Here’s a quick summation to get you started


Speech as the basic interface for Assistive technology

Background information

  • About 50 million people (10% of todays European Union – EU population) are disabled.
  • 1% present at least one type of impairment.
  • 6% = mobility impairment.
  • 4% = cerebral palsy.
  • Number of elderly people aged from 65 to 80 will rise by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2030 in the EU.
  • The group of people over 80 will almost double by 2050.


State of Assistive Technology

In Europe

  • European commission is making a 1 billion dollar investment R&D.
  • HERMES (cognitive care and guidance for active aging).
  • The CompanionAble (Integrated cognitive assistive and domestic companion robotic system for ability and security).
  • WWAAC – The World Wide Augmentative and Alternative communication Project.
  • Handicom (provides several devices ranging from single-handed keyboards, Bliss language processes or sign language software.
  • Tobii (Sweden based. Specialised in AAS devices).
  • VOCA (voice output communication aids).
  • Microsoft provides an AT program.


In Portugal

  • AT is more orientated to visually impaired people, since they represent the larger group of disabled people.
  • CIDEF – Robobraille project,
  • FCT- funded project: Ubiquitous Web Access for visually Impaired People (VIP-ACCESS)
  • Electrosertec: leading company in Portugal providing all types of AT to visually impaired people.
  • Vodaphone Portugal: Vodaphone Say
  • B-Live (home automation infrastructure)
  • CARL (intelligent robot)


The Importance of Speech Interfaces in Assistive Technology

  • Speech is the easiest and most natural way for human-human and human-machine interaction.
  • Therefore interfaces must be speech-based
  • The end-users of these solutions are not only visually impaired people, but also individuals with severe speech disabilities and the elderly.

STATUS QUO (Portugal)

Problems for Speech

  1. Speech is an interesting interface but can only be secondary.
  2. Speech interfaces don’t have an appealing market.
  3. Speech technology is not useable.
  4. We already have the necessary speech technology.


Potential for Speech

  1. Speech can be the only interface with AT.
  2. The market in AT is growing.
  3. Voice output communication aids.
  4. Speech recognition in writing.
  • Speech Synthesis in reading, writing.
  1. Speech training methods and devices.
  2. Processing of speech in cochlea implants.



The following actions are required

  • To personalise the communication aid devices to SSPI.
  • To adapt and expand state-of-the-art speech technology in European Portuguese to SSPI.
  • To conduct multidisciplinary work on the requirements, development and evaluation regarding the real use of speech technologies.
  • To develop prototypes.
  • To enhance the communication competence and quality of life for affected individuals.


Best wishes,

The SpeechAngel Team.