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Speech and Language Processing Technical Committee Newsletter

April 2009

Welcome to the Spring 2009 edition of the IEEE Speech and Language Processing Technical Committee's Newsletter, just in time for ICASSP.

In this issue we are pleased to provide a selection of brief articles representing a diversity of views and backgrounds, spanning spoken and written language, academic and industry contexts, as well as seasoned perspectives and new takes. We aim to enrich the community by building awareness of resources, challenges, applications, techniques, and organizations, and we are grateful to all of the contributors to this issue. We are delighted to feature articles from guest contributors Anja Belz, Alistair Conkie, Albert Gatt, Annie Gilbert, Alex Greunstein, Jin Kyu-Park, Ian McGraw, Phil Shinn, Marcel Waeltermann, and Chi Zhang. We are also, as ever, pleased to provide articles from our staff reporters, with pieces in this issue from Svetlana Stoyanchev, Antonio Roque, Annie Louis, and Filip Jurcicek. Svetlana and Antonio are also rising to new challenges and have taken on a portion of the editing in this issue. Finally, Chuck Wooters has assembled a comprehensive list of calls for papers, proposals, and participation, as well as current job postings.

We hope you agree that this newsletter is an ideal forum for updates, reports, announcements and editorials which don't fit well with traditional journals. We welcome your contributions, as well as calls for papers, job announcements, comments and suggestions. You can reach us at speechnewseds [at] listserv (dot) ieee [dot] org.

Finally, to subscribe the Newsletter, send an email with the command "subscribe speechnewsdist" in the message body to listserv [at] listserv (dot) ieee [dot] org.

Jason Williams, Editor-in-chief
Pino Di Fabbrizio, Editor
Chuck Wooters, Editor

Calls for papers, proposals, and participation

Edited by Chuck Wooters

Job advertisements

Edited by Chuck Wooters

Shared Task Evaluation Challenges in Natural Language Generation

Anja Belz and Albert Gatt

Shared Task Evaluation Challenges (STECs) have been common in many areas of NLP for some time, but have only recently started in the field of Natural Language Generation (NLG). This article gives an overview of developments in Shared Tasks for NLG over the past three years.

The Blizzard Challenge

Alistair Conkie

This article provides an overview of the Blizzard Challenge, an annual speech synthesis event.

The WAMI Toolkit and Portal: Web-Accessible Multimodal Interfaces

Alex Gruenstein and Ian McGraw

Multimodal interfaces which make use of speech and natural language technologies have long made for great technology demonstrations, but they are rarely studied outside of the lab in the hands of a large number of real users. The open-source WAMI Toolkit makes it easy for any developer to create a Web-Accessible Multimodal Interface, which can be accessed via a standard web browser or a mobile device. We have had success making applications developed in this way available to users around the world. Moreover, when paired with the WAMI Portal, which provides speech recognition as a network service, any developer can speech-enable a web application with a few lines of code and a grammar.

Speech recognition for live TV captioning

Filip Jurcicek

As TV captions are important to many types of viewers, a lot of effort has been put into live captioning. Thanks to recent progress in speech recognition, TV broadcasters such as the BBC and Czech Television have recently increased the number of captioned TV programs they provide. The BBC, a pioneer of speech recognition usage for TV captioning, is currently captioning 100% of its broadcasted programs.

The Penn Discourse Treebank Corpus

Annie Louis

Large scale annotated corpora of linguistic phenomena play an important role in the development of language technologies. A new resource for studying discourse properties of the English language has been developed at the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn Discourse Treebank provides annotations of discourse relations over the 1 million word Wall Street Journal Corpus. The corpus has enabled NLP researchers to gain more information about discourse structure, and several efforts are underway to use the annotation contained there as a basis for automatically annotating other texts. Meanwhile, studies using the corpus have led to better understanding of the usefulness of discourse information for applications such text quality assessment and question generation.

The Voice User Interface Designers (VUIDs) Group

Phil Shinn

The VUIDs group ( ) is an on-line community of people interested in voice user interface design. It was started in August of 2003, and has about 500 members. It was started as a place where professional VUIDs (that is, developers of commercial applications) could discuss issues of interest and learn from each other. For example, if you wanted to know what the end-of-speech timeout value should be when collecting a phone number, this is the place to ask.

Web Accessibility Technology for the Blind

Svetlana Stoyanchev

Web technology uses design and graphics to present information to the user. Visually impaired people use screen readers to access web pages. W3C has developed standards to improve Web accessibility for the blind. However, these standards are not always followed by web developers. Research projects at universities and industry laboratories focus on making Web accessible with audio browsing.

Xuedong Huang, Joseph S. Perkell, Hiroya Fujisaki, and Christian Wellekens talk to Saras Institute

Chi Zhang, Annie Gilbert, Jin Kyu-Park, Marcel Waeltermann

We continue the series of excerpts of interviews from the History of Speech and Language Technology Project. In these segments Xuedong Huang, Joseph S. Perkell, Hiroya Fujisaki, and Christian Wellekens discuss how they became involved with the field of speech and language technology.

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