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The world’s 5 largest tech companies partner with the U of I to improve speech recognition software

The world’s five largest technology companies partner with the University of Illinois.

Their goal is to improve the speech recognition software we use every day, for people with disabilities that impact speech.

“The speech of people with Parkinson’s disease is going to look and sound very different to that of someone with ALS or cerebral palsy or someone with Down’s syndrome, so this is the first time that you get the breadth of the different diagnoses,” said Clarion Mendes, a UIUC assistant professor of speech-language pathology.

The university was selected by Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft for the project.

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“All of them have products that use speech in one way or another, so speech-to-speech translation or teleconferencing or cellphones or smart speakers, there’s just a huge range of applications for speech technology,” said Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, an electrician and computer scientist with UIUC. engineering professor.

Through the university’s Beckman Institute, data scientists, speech pathologists and other experts in their fields will collect thousands of speech samples in an effort to make life easier for people with disabilities.

And, the U of I has a long history of improving the lives of this community.

“The first wheelchair Olympics in the United States were held at the University of Illinois. The architectural standard that has become the American standard for accessibility buildings was originally prototyped at the University of Illinois. Illinois. One of the nation’s first wheelchair-accessible buses ran in Urbana-Champaign,” Hasegawa-Johnson said.

The information and research compiled by the university will be sent to the various technology companies, so that they can improve the software.

For more information on the project, or to participate, visit www.speechaccessibilityproject.com.