The ACE-LP Project

Welcome to ACE-LP, an EPSRC-funded collaborative project between the University of Dundee and the University of Cambridge here in the UK. We are investigating the potential of Augmenting Communication using Environmental data to drive Language Prediction as a part of our research into enhancing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).


Communication is the essence of life. We communicate in many ways, but it is our ability to speak which enables us to chat in everyday situations. An estimated quarter of a million people in the UK are unable to speak, and are therefore at risk of isolation. They depend on Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs, or Speech Generating Devices, SGDs) to compensate for their disability. However, current state of the art VOCAs are only able to produce computerised speech at an insufficient rate of eight to ten words per minute (wpm). For some users who are unable to use a keyboard, rates are even slower. For example, Professor Stephen Hawking recently doubled his spoken communication rate to two wpm by incorporating a more efficient word prediction system and common shortcuts into his VOCA software [New Scientist, Intel Press Release].

ACE-LP brings together research expertise in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (University of Dundee), Intelligent Interactive Systems (University of Cambridge), and Computer Vision and Image Processing (University of Dundee) to develop a predictive AAC system that will address these prohibitively slow communication rates by introducing the use of multimodal sensor data to inform state of the art language prediction. For the first time a VOCA system will not only predict words and phrases; we aim to provide access to extended conversation by predicting narrative text elements tailored to an ongoing conversation.

This project will develop technology which will leverage contextual data (e.g. information about location, conversational partners and past conversations) to support language prediction. We will develop an onscreen user interface which will adapt depending on the conversational topic, the conversational partner, the conversational setting and the physical ability of the nonspeaking person. Our aim is to improve the communication experience of nonspeaking people by enabling them to tell their stories easily, at more acceptable speeds.

We are looking for Participants

We are looking for people who are using or could use communication aids and who would like to participate in this research.

We would like to invite you to help us with our research by joining the ACE-LP User Pool, a database of people who use or could benefit from using electronic communication aids. We will contact members of the User Pool from time to time and ask them to take part in different studies on supporting communication through electronic communication aids.

If you are interested, or if you know someone who is or who could benefit from this research, please contact us (see below or use our Contact Us page). Thank you.

Professor Annalu WallerPrincipal Investigator.