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Co-designing a speech interface for people with dysarthria

Foad Hamidi (Lassonde School of Engineering, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Melanie Baljko (Lassonde School of Engineering, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Connie Ecomomopoulos (Independent Researcher, Toronto, Canada)
Nigel J. Livingston (CanAssist, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)
Leonhard G. Spalteholz (CanAssist, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 21 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and evaluation of CanSpeak which is an open-source speech interface for users with dysarthria of speech. The interface can be customized by each user to map a small number of words they can speak clearly to commands in the computer system, thereby adding a new modality to their interaction.


The interface was developed in two phases: in the first phase, the authors used participatory design to engage the users and their community in the customization of the system, and in the second phase, we used a more focussed co-design methodology during which a user of the system became a co-designer by directly making new design decisions about the system.


The study showed that it is important to include assistive technology users and their community in the design and customization of technology. Participation led to increased engagement, adoption and also provided new ideas that were rooted in the experience of the user.


The co-design phase of the project provided an opportunity for the researchers to work closely with a user of their system and include her in design decisions. The study showed that by employing co-design new insights into the design domain can be revealed and incorporated into the design that might not be revealed otherwise.



The authors would like to thank all the volunteer participants, as well as Sandra Salamon and Dr Torsten Felzer.


Hamidi, F., Baljko, M., Ecomomopoulos, C., Livingston, N.J. and Spalteholz, L.G. (2015), "Co-designing a speech interface for people with dysarthria", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 159-173.



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