The UA presents Open Book, a tool that makes the comprehension of texts easier for people with autism
As part of European Project FIRST where centres from Spain, United Kingdom and Bulgaria participate
Alicante, 13 October 2014
Within the framework of the Sessions on Technological Resources for social inclusion hosted by the University of Alicante, the Department of Computer Languages and Systems has presented an Open Book prototype. As part of European Project FIRST (Flexible Interactive Reading Support Tool), it makes the comprehension of texts easier for people with autism.
Through the language technologies and a simple interface,we have developed an enriched text version for better comprehension. Open Book provides synonyms, images, definitions of methafors or complex verbs as stated by Paloma Moreda, UA researcher, leader of European Project FIRST. It provides additional information to understand the main ideas of a document by increasing the users' social integration, she states.
One feature of the tool is the ability to fit the needs of each person by choosing the level of help they need: e.g. see definitions or images, interpretation of metaphors or the analysis of a feeling. Furthermore, it is applicable to any subject from school textbooks, children's stories and literature with simple operation.
Although it has been designed for people with disorders of autism spectrum (ASD) who have difficulties in areas such as communication, social interaction and understanding of information, the benefits of the tool can be extended to more groups. In this regard -as stated by the UA researcher- Open Book is a useful tool for people with low literacy, people who are learning a language, and even older people who find difficulty to understand new terms.
In the development of FIRST, which ended in late September 2014 after three years of work, centres in the UK, Spain and Bulgaria collaborated in the project and Open Book is available in the three languages of these countries. According to Moreda, they had not planned marketing the tool yet, although they are studying the possibility of making it available if any company is interested.