Khiet Truong – ‘We gaan het maken’

In the spring of 2021, the programme 'We gaan het maken' will appear on Dutch television. In this programme, different scientists will work on a very specific issue for someone with a disability.

One of these scientists is Khiet Truong. She started working for Joël, a boy with spasm. Because of his disability he speaks in an atypical way that is different from what we are used to. Hence, most people have difficulty understanding the sounds that he produces. That's why Khiet started to develop an automatic speech recognizer for him that translates his sounds to words and sentences that people can understand. By means of this speech recognizer he can communicate with people who cannot understand his sounds.

In the process, she ran into a number of difficulties. Normally, speech recognizers are trained with thousands of hours of speech data, but in this case, we started with no data at all. And in contrast to traditional speech recognizers, we trained models for each word. Joël had to record multiple repetitions of all words and sentences he wanted to use, which was a very intensive activity.