Two UC3M projects are awarded Indra and Universia grants for accessible technologies
Making things easier
The EASIER project is being carried out by the Human Language and Accessibility Technologies (HULAT) research group – formerly known as the Advanced Databases Group, LaBDA) – from UC3M’s IT department. The objective is to develop a solution in order to facilitate accessibility to knowledge for people with intellectual disabilities in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT). In order to do so, they aim to provide a system that adapts to each person’s comprehension skills by means of a lexical simplification of the textual content in Spanish, taking into account the accessibility guidelines (WCAG) related to the language, complying with the regulations in Spain and the Easy-to-Read guidelines.
For the development of this system, they will use innovative methods of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning. Then, by means of the web tool, called EASIER, users will be able to enter a text or the URL of a website so that the system can generate a version with simplified text that is easier to understand. In addition, an extension for browsers will be developed that identifies complex and unusual words on a website, providing a simpler synonym. “This proposal has a great social impact, since it facilitates the integration of people with intellectual disabilities through innovative applications in different areas such as social, cultural and political integration, in addition to education and employment integration,” says the researcher leading up the project, Lourdes Moreno, from UC3M’s HULAT group.
An app for detecting crises in people with autism
Meanwhile, the PETRA project, proposed by researchers from the Signal Processing and Learning Group (GTSA in its Spanish acronym) from UC3M’s Department of Signal Theory and Communications, seeks to alleviate particular communication difficulties that some of the people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (TEA in its Spanish acronym) have. In general, these people’s capacities for interaction with others are considerably different from the usual. They present abnormalities in communication (verbal and non-verbal) and have certain limitations when it comes to understanding the emotions and intentions of others.
To improve the relationships that these people can have with their social environment, the researchers are proposing the development of a free mobile application, called eB2-TEA (evidence based behaviour for TEA), which is capable of characterising their habitual behaviour regarding the use of the mobile device, identifying personalised patterns and detecting changes that allow you to predict episodes of crisis. “In this way, we aim to alleviate the deficiencies in these people’s communication skills through a system that generates, automatically and in real time, a direct alert to their caregivers’ mobile phones,” explains the scientist heading up the project, Pablo MartÍnez Olmos, a researcher from UC3M’s GTSA. “All the processing is local to the device and, by not sending data to any computer server, anonymity is also guaranteed,” he adds.
The aim of Indra and Fundación Universia’s grants to research projects in accessible technologies is to promote the development of innovative technological solutions that improve the quality of life and the social and labour integration of people with disabilities. The evaluation criteria were the technological innovation and excellence of the proposed solution, its viability in terms of becoming a reality, its practical use in an actual labour inclusion environment, the number of possible beneficiaries and the potential of internationalising the initiative. Other factors taken into account were whether the resulting solutions are free or low cost for end users and whether they planned to involve people with disabilities in the development and validation of the project.
Javier Alonso Flores