Julia Cummins


Challenges in assistive technology development for an endangered language: an Irish (Gaelic) perspective
Ailbhe Ni Chasaide | Emily Barnes | Neasa Ní Chiaráin | Ronan McGuirk | Oisín Morrin | Muireann Nic Corcráin | Julia Cummins
Ninth Workshop on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies (SLPAT-2022)

This paper describes three areas of assistive technology development which deploy the resources and speech technology for Irish (Gaelic), newly emerging from the ABAIR initiative. These include (i) a screenreading facility for visually impaired people, (ii) an application to help develop phonological awareness and early literacy for dyslexic people (iii) a speech-enabled AAC system for non-speaking people. Each of these is at a different stage of development and poses unique challenges: these are dis-cussed along with the approaches adopted to address them. Three guiding principles underlie development. Firstly, the sociolinguistic context and the needs of the community are essential considerations in setting priorities. Secondly, development needs to be language sensitive. The need for skilled researchers with a deep knowledge of Irish structure is illustrated in the case of (ii) and (iii), where aspects of Irish linguistic structure (phonological, morphological and grammatical) and the striking differences from English pose challenges for systems aimed at bilingual Irish-English users. Thirdly, and most importantly, the users and their support networks are central – not as passive recipients of ready-made technologies, but as active partners at every stage of development, from design to implementation, evaluation and dissemination.

AAC don Ghaeilge: the Prototype Development of Speech-Generating Assistive Technology for Irish
Emily Barnes | Oisín Morrin | Ailbhe Ní Chasaide | Julia Cummins | Harald Berthelsen | Andy Murphy | Muireann Nic Corcráin | Claire O’Neill | Christer Gobl | Neasa Ní Chiaráin
Proceedings of the 4th Celtic Language Technology Workshop within LREC2022

This paper describes the prototype development of an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) system for the Irish language. This system allows users to communicate using the ABAIR synthetic voices, by selecting a series of words or images. Similar systems are widely available in English and are often used by autistic people, as well as by people with Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A dual-pronged approach to development has been adopted: this involves (i) the initial short-term prototype development that targets the immediate needs of specific users, as well as considerations for (ii) the longer term development of a bilingual AAC system which will suit a broader range of users with varying linguistic backgrounds, age ranges and needs. This paper described the design considerations and the implementation steps in the current system. Given the substantial differences in linguistic structures in Irish and English, the development of a bilingual system raises many research questions and avenues for future development.