Leading voice agency Rabbit & Pork has designed, developed and built an Alexa Skill with researchers from City, University of London that allows smart speakers to facilitate speech therapy for people with aphasia.
The first-of-its-kind, voice-initiated therapy protocol, delivered via Amazon Alexa, facilitates a semantic feature analysis-style naming therapy for people with aphasia – a language disability that results in communication problems for one-third of all stroke survivors.
John Campbell, managing director of Rabbit & Pork, said: “Insights informed us that voice assistants are often seen as a useful device for someone with a physical or visual impairment. Thus, we approached City, University of London’s brief with a key research question: can Alexa be used as a therapy practice tool?”
Dr Abi Roper, of City, University of London, continued: “Along the way, the team worked with me to accommodate the restraints of the technology and to take advantages of features of the Amazon Fire Stick while we centered design recommendations for people with aphasia.”
The custom Alexa Skill is based on an existing therapy technique known as semantic feature analysis. The user is requested to try and name pictured items and the skill provides spoken prompts to help them successfully say the word. The skill has a range of different items for users to name, and at the same time tracks the user’s progress each session to provide a custom analytics report.
The user’s interactions are saved to a database, and are later downloaded by the team at City, University of London to assess the user’s progress.
The next stage of the project is to conduct testing with end users. This testing period will gather data into the customer analytics report, which can be used to answer the question of whether Alexa can be used effectively as a therapy practice tool.
Rabbit & Pork’s research project with City, University of London launched in June and is ongoing.