Online Subjective Assessment of the Speech of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
The aim of this paper is to present the results of a two-year speech production training of hearing impaired children with the help of a Speech Assistant system. It was developed as part of a research project that was carried out jointly by the University of Debrecen and the University of Miskolc within the framework of the project called 'Basic and Applied Research for Internet-based Speech Development of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People and for Objective Measurement of Their Progress'. The project is aimed at solving basic and applied research tasks to develop an application for supporting the improvement of speech production of deaf and hard of hearing people more effectively than the methods that are already known. The idea of the Speech Assistant came from an audio-visual transcoder for sound visualization developed at the University of Debrecen, and a three-dimensional head model for articulation presentation, called 'talking head', developed at the University of Miskolc. The most important aim of the research was to create a complex system to assist the speech production improvement of hearing impaired children by the visualization of speech sound and articulation. In addition, the system has many other features (such as prosody display, automatic assessment and knowledge-based systems implementation), which subsequently allow individual practice not only on computers but also on mobile devices. However, it is important to note that the personal contribution of specialized teachers cannot be replaced. The module performing the audio-visual transcoding required is language-independent, the talking head and the automatic assessment of utterance can be adapted to other languages. The online evaluation system developed for measuring the progress of children in speech production is also shown in this paper.