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Allowing people with disabilities in an ageing population to have a share in digital technologies, using the example of visual communication for those with speech impairments.


What issue will the project deal with?

Speech impairments such as aphasia are constantly on the rise in our ageing population. A new, research-based app shows how access to digital media can be of use to people with disabilities and how digital change is gaining a foothold in rehabilitation. Digital tools are used as a means of everyday communication for those with speech impairments and are employed as an alternative to language in language diagnostics and speech therapy. This has three problem areas: 1. We do not have a device for objectively measuring speech production that allows tailored evaluation of therapeutic success, with the patient themselves serving as a reference. 2. Apps with speech recognition used in aphasia tests and speech therapy are not designed to recognise Swiss dialects and 3. Images, which play such a key role in digital communication with older generations, are often ambiguous and lead to misunderstandings.

What results and impacts are to be achieved?

Result/impact 1: a) Integration of objective evaluation parameters into the app (reaction time, duration of speech, matching precision and others described in the literature) to objectivise what have previously been the entirely subjective evaluations of speech therapists, and to enable a tailored evaluation of the success of the training; b) Analysis of the existing parameters; c) Further development as part of a clinical feasibility study.

Result/impact 2: Development of an app which a) enables both standard German and dialect to be recognised, unlike previous products; b) is to be used initially to diagnose and treat aphasia in a tailored way and c) is based on a choice of everyday terms backed up by linguistic research.

Result/impact 3: Use of images in the app that will a) be implemented based on research, with b) various types of images (photographs, line drawings) being evaluated and compared beforehand as regards their clarity; c) be investigated in terms of how they are perceived by the observer (aphasia patient, person with no speech impairment). And d) the study will contribute towards the scientific discussion on image perception and visual communication.

What will be different about the interdisciplinary cooperation on the project?

The participating schools will apply their expertise in a thoroughly interdisciplinary research project and together will help older and disadvantaged people to have a share in digital technologies. In this project, speech recognition (lead: School of Life Sciences), the choice of words (lead: School of Education) and the image implementation (lead: School of Art and Design) are equally relevant in the use of the app, which is why all of the project partners will be involved in the development from the outset. The project’s interdisciplinary approach will enable us to exploit synergies comprising the expertise of all the specialist areas involved, resulting in an overall product for the relevant people groups. The project will also help raise awareness of the different research communities and disciplines.


Prof. Dr. Simone Hemm-Ode
Prof. Dr. Simone Hemm-Ode Dozentin für Neurotechnik
Telephone : +41 61 228 56 89 (direct)
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