A Flexible Interactive Reading Support Tool (FIRST)
A Flexible Interactive Reading Support Tool
Start date: Oct 1, 2011,
End date: Sep 30, 2014
The FIRST project uses innovative language technology to simplify documents for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These people can have problems when reading such as difficulty understanding complex instructions, misinterpreting literal meanings, or being confused by uncommon words, figures of speech and lack of precision.Using the language technology created in the FIRST project, users with ASD can convert a standard document into a personalised version which is easier for them to understand. The conversion software will automatically detect problematic language and replace it to make the text clearer. It will also simplify complex structure in the text and clarify ambiguity. Not relying purely on textual changes, the conversion software will add illustrative pictures to documents and will also offer navigation tools such as hyperlinked tables of contents and concise document summaries. Users with ASD will thus be empowered to read any documents with confidence and at their own convenience, without relying on support workers as can currently be the case. This will enable users with ASD to gain better access to educational, vocational, cultural and social opportunities in Europe.Clinicians in three different EU countries will work closely with a test group of people with ASD, who will review the software and provide feedback to ensure that it is developed to meet their requirements. Tests of reading comprehension with and without the software will provide an explicit indication of the software's advantages. The involvement of a European support group for people with ASD will allow news of the software to be easily distributed to those who could benefit from it.An exciting aspect of FIRST's research is that the simplifying language technology to be developed will have wide-ranging applications beyond that of users with ASD. Modified versions of the software could be of benefit to additional user groups within the healthcare system, as well as in other sectors (e.g. language learners, migrants, readers of legal documentation). The initial software prototype will be produced in English, Spanish and Bulgarian, and transfer of the software to other European languages post-project is foreseen.
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