Speech Therapy Articulation Rehabilitation with University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield, Barnsley Hospital and Therapy Box are working together to create a revolutionary articulation rehabilitation app. STAR (Speech Therapy Articulation Rehabilitation) app will provide greater independence to people who are working toward relearning articulation and speech skills after an illness or traumatic event. The automated evaluation tool will enable users to practice speech without the assistance of a speech therapist, allowing the user to practice more, whilst saving therapists time.
The University of Sheffield’s Catch team developed speech recognition software for people with dysarthria. They wanted to use take this property and tailor it into an application which would be able to help with articulation rehabilitation. With some changes to their software, they believed they could build a module which could listen to a dysarthric speaker practising a word or sound, then provide feedback on how closely the spoken word matched an ideal example. By receiving instantaneous feedback, a patient undergoing articulation rehabilitation, would be able to practice speech on their own with a significantly reduced risk of reinforcing bad habits. Therapy Box is a technical partner on this project to take the engine developed by University of Sheffield and to use it to develop a user-friendly iOS app.
Therapy Box built an iOS app in which users are able to train the app to recognise new sounds and words. Recognisable words can be built into articulation exercises, which are built as games, with a fun user interface, to feel less bothersome to the end user, and encourage ongoing engagement. A colour coded timetable reminds users to practice the app. A data-transfer service was developed in-house by Therapy Box. It securely, quickly and automatically passes content between therapists and their patients. Therapists are able to track patient progress and provide feedback, is able to schedule new appointments based on patient progress, as well as pushing new exercises to the patient.
The app has been tested with children with hearing impairment and stroke survivors and their speech and language therapists. During the testing, therapists and their clients used the app as part of their usual treatment. The results of this testing have led to changes in the final version of the app to make it easier to use and provide a wider range of activities to practice.
The project has demonstrated the benefits of working closely with both speech and language therapists and their clients to improve the technology prior to it being launched to the wider public.