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How Google is redesigning voice recognition technology for people with speech impairments

There’s less than one month to go until TechShare Pro 2019, Europe’s largest accessibility and inclusive design conference.

TechShare Pro 2019 is being organised by national digital accessibility charity AbilityNet and hosted by Google in London. Google will be among a range of top tech companies that will be showcasing the latest developments in their assistive technology at TechShare Pro 2019.

And one of Google’s interesting current innovations is Google Project Euphonia.

Are you talking to me, Google?

Google has recognised that people with disabilities that have speech impairments can be prevented from using Google Assistant, which simply wouldn’t have understood their voices in the past. That’s why it has launched Google Project Euphonia to make Google’s speech technology more accessible to people with disabilities.

The Project Euphonia team is using AI to improve computers’ abilities to understand diverse speech patterns, such as impaired speech. Project Euphonia is now collecting more voice data from people with impaired speech to help train Google Assistant to recognise the voices of people with speech impairments in future.

Google is asking people around the world who have a speech impairment to submit their voice sample, in order to use the data to improve its algorithms so it incorporate the updates into Google Assistant.


The growth of voice recognition technology

Voice recognition technology has been a huge growth area in consumer technology in recent years.
So much so that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according to comScore.
Google Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices and 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.
But as Google has recognised and sought to change, voice recognition technology like that used in Google Assistant doesn’t work well for people with speech impairments.
This means they can face digital exclusion and can’t use voice recognition tech in their everyday lives in the way that many of us take for granted.


Why is it so important to make voice recognition accessible?

We live in a world where digital transformation means that many services and daily activities are now digital-first. We are encouraged to do nearly everything online, ranging from paying tax bills, applying for bus passes or shopping for groceries, to finding out a train or bus timetable.

But if you can’t access that information via voice recognition search, it can be a barrier to taking part in daily activities and benefiting from technology in the way others do.

So it’s great to see Google’s Project Euphonia tackle this problem by redesigning its voice recognition technology for people with speech impairments.

If you have impaired or hard-to-understand speech, you can complete this form to volunteer and record a set of phrases to help Project Euphonia be a big success.

If you need help to reach more people and make your communications accessible and inclusive contact us now.