Ong, Chin Ann
Cerebral Palsy children with multiple disabilities have a combination of several disabilities that may include: speech, physical mobility, intellectual disability, visual, hearing and possibly others. Consequently, communication becomes a common difficulty of these children. Speech therapists and pathologies suggest the adoption of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tool to help them in their communication. However, most of the suggested AAC tools like touch or text-to-speech based applications require good hand coordination skills. Thus, most of the AAC tools are not effective in improving their communication with others. This research proposes an assistive communication tool (ACApp) with natural human computer interface to improve their communication. The proposed prototype recognizes their facial expressions and responses either by alerting with an alarm or sending messages through Short Messaging System (SMS) to the guardians’ mobile phones. There were 21 children with Cerebral Palsy from a special education school being invited to participate in the prototype evaluation. These children were categorized as high and low functional groups according to their disabilities. The results showed that the proposed prototype recognize facial expressions and response with the accuracy of 82.30% for the high functional group and 81.89% for the low functional group respectively. The false positive detection was 5.65% and 18.22% for the high and low functional groups respectively. Evaluations were also conducted to investigate the effectiveness of the critical expression messages delivery to their guardians, 98.46% of SMS messages (with an average of 8.27 seconds of waiting time) were delivered successfully to the mobile phones. The proposed prototype is proven to be able to assist children with Cerebral Palsy in their communication.
Lau Bee Theng
Copyright © 2012 Chin Ann Ong.
A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science (by Research), Swinburne University of Technology, 2012.