University of Dundee

"How was School today…?" in the Wild

RCUK Digital Economy Programme: The main partners in this Digital Economy Project are Dundee University's School of Computing, Aberdeen University's Department of Computing Science and Capability Scotland. We will work closely with Dr Nicola Grove, the director of OpenStoryTellers and Communication Matters (ISAAC UK)

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Being able to tell stories about ourselves is a central part of the human experience and of social interaction. Most people do this naturally, for example while chatting with family members over the dinner table. But telling stories about oneself can be a real struggle for people with complex communication needs (CCN); they find it very difficult to create and articulate such stories. People with CCN (i.e. individuals with severe physical and communication impairments and possibly varying degrees of intellectual disability, e.g. due to cerebral palsy) rely on computer-generated synthetic speech. Speech generating devices are currently limited to short, pre-stored utterances or tedious preparation of text files which are output, word for word, via a speech synthesiser. Restrictions in speed and vocabulary can be a frustrating experience and are an impediment to spontaneous social conversation.

This project is a follow on to the feasibility study "How was School Today...?" where we wanted to see if we can help children with CCN create stories about what they did in a day by developing a computer tool which produces a draft story based on knowledge of the user’s planned daily activities (e.g. from a diary) and automatically-acquired sensor data; and also an editing and narration tool which lets the user edit the story into something which is his/hers and not just a computer output.

Please contact Rolf Black (email: or see other contact details on the people page) for more information.