Speech Communication Trainer for Adults

Period of Performance: 06/01/2000 - 11/30/2001


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Communication Disorders Technology
Bloomington, IN 47408
Principal Investigator


This project will develop a computer-based multimedia training system for improving the communication skills of adolescents and adults who have mental retardation or other developmental disabilities. The aim is to increase speech intelligibility and functional use of spoken English in support of occupational and community life skills. The training system will incorporate automatic speech recognition technology that has been shown to provide clinically valid speech-quality feedback. The methods employed in the system are based on principles used in speech therapy and remedial language teaching. The trainer will be an appropriate technological enhancement to the direct instruction component of a communication training program. The training program will integrate clinical intervention by a speech-language pathologist with follow-on community-based training and evaluation performed by the speech-language pathologist and by habilitation and occupational support professionals. In Phase l a prototype of the training system was developed and evaluated. The multimedia capability of the system provides a visual and auditory environment far richer in stimulus variability and response consequence than is typical of current direct instructional settings. Two training studies conducted in Phase l showed that clients are enthusiastic about using the system and that the methods are effective in improving speech intelligibility. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: This project will develop a multimedia communication training system for adults with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities (MRDD). It is estimated that the trainer could provide communication skills training for over two million U.S. citizens at more than 6,000 habilitation centers and thousands of high schools. In order to maximize the commercial potential, the final product will be low-cost and useful to a wide range of the MRDD population.