Published May 22, 2023
Thirty international researchers are among those who will attend a workshop May 31 through June 2 in Buffalo focused on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), which is used by people who have trouble speaking or have lost the ability to speak.
“Designing Conversant AAC Technologies to Promote Social Engagement, Mutual Understanding, and Agency ” will take place at The Richardson Hotel, 444 Forest Ave., adjacent to SUNY Buffalo State University.
The workshop is part of a five-year grant from the Engelke Family Foundation to research and develop ways to overcome the technical barriers preventing individuals with significant communication challenges, such as ALS and cerebral palsy, from actively engaging in conversations and participating in society due to the significant speaking delays created by current AAC technologies.
Jeff Higginbotham, professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences who oversees the Communicative and Assistive Device Lab (CADL), says the grant has enabled his lab, as well as the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, develop novel approaches to help people to engage in real-time conversations based on ongoing social interaction research.
Higginbotham is a conference organizer, along with Jenna Bizovi from CADL and Lori Geist and Karen Erickson from UNC Chapel Hill.
The workshop will bring together a diverse set of researchers in augmentative and alternative communication, talk-in-interaction research, engineering, computer science and inclusive design to discuss ways of using novel design approaches, including conversant AI, to address this significant and persistent problem in augmentative communication.