The University of Southampton

Technology to provide access to learning for all

Published: 29 June 2006

Technology which will provide greater access to learning for students with disabilities will be unveiled at Southampton this week.

Researchers from all over the world will gather at the first Liberated Learning Consortium meeting to be held outside North America, at the group’s annual meeting, co-hosted by the University of Southampton and IBM Hursley, to review progress and new developments in speech recognition technology worldwide. The meeting will be held at IBM Hursley on Thursday 29 June and at the University on Saturday 1 July.

A number of new technologies in this field will also be showcased at a public symposium at IBM Hursley on Friday 30 June.

An individual display system that will allow learners to personalise text transcription will be unveiled by Dr Mike Wald, a member of the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS). He will also demonstrate a real time editing prototype that intercepts recognition errors as they occur.

Dr Wald is one of the founding members of the Liberated Learning Consortium which was set up seven years ago to develop ways of using speech recognition to automatically transcribe speech and display it as readable text.

‘This all began with a conversation with Dr Sara Basson from IBM Research about how speech recognition could change the future of classroom accessibility for people with disabilities,’ commented Dr Wald.

‘I knew at the time that speech recognition had the potential to transform access to learning and communication and my collaboration with IBM and the Liberated Learning Consortium has helped turn that vision into a reality.’

At the symposium, IBM scientists will present their work on the development of ViaScribe, the core technology that supports Liberated Learning research. Partners from Hiroshima University will share their experiences about the Japanese education system. Another contingent will talk about the technology’s impact on learning and their efforts to streamline the technical elements in Australia.

Other featured presentations include how the technology is being used in museums and in high school classrooms in Canada, how subtitling for broadcasting is being done using IBM Speech technology, and how wearable computers and head-mounted displays can be used in classrooms.

The Director of IBM’s European Accessibility Center and event sponsor, Julien Ghez, has been instrumental in introducing Liberated Learning into Europe.

He commented: ‘As a founding member of the Liberated Learning Consortium, IBM believes that innovation in this area will lead to great advancements in accessibility on a global scale. Any institution that faces challenges providing access to information for its stakeholders should watch these proceedings closely.’


Notes for editors 1. For further information about the Liberated Learning Consortium, please visit:

For further information, please contact:

Dr Mike Wald, Tel: 023 8059 3667, Email:

Joyce Lewis, Communications Manager, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5453,

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