ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a degenerative neuromuscular disease; people with late-stage ALS typically retain cognitive function, but lose the motor ability to speak, relying on gaze-controlled AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices for interpersonal interactions. State-of-the-art AAC technologies used by people with ALS do not facilitate natural communication; gaze-based AAC communication is extremely slow (typically below 20 wpm, compared to 190 wpm for conversational speech), and the resulting synthesized speech is flat and robotic. In this talk, I will present a series of novel technology prototypes from the Microsoft Research Enable team that aim to address the challenges of improving the throughput and expressivity of AAC for people with ALS.
Meredith Ringel Morris is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, where she is affiliated with the Ability, Enable, and neXus research teams. She is also an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington, in both the department of Computer Science and Engineering and the School of Information. Dr. Morris earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in 2006, and also did her undergraduate work in computer science at Brown University. Her primary research area is human-computer interaction, specifically computer-supported cooperative work and social computing. Her current research focuses on the intersection of CSCW and Accessibility (“social accessibility”), creating technologies that facilitate people with disabilities in connecting with others in social and professional contexts. Past research contributions include foundational work in facilitating cooperative interactions in the domain of surface computing, and in supporting collaborative information retrieval via collaborative web search and friendsourcing. More information about Merrie, including her full list of publications, can be found on her website, http://meredithringelmorris.com.