In Spain there are over a million people over the age of six who have varying types and degrees of hearing disabilities; they represent 8% of the population, according to a study by the National Confederation of Deaf People (CNSE). Of these, over 97% communicate with oral language, according to data of the National Statistics Institute (INE). All these people can have problems understanding the events and didactic activities that take place at university.
This is why Valencia’s Polytechnic University (UPV) and its Machine Learning and Language Processing (MLLP) research group have developed an automated, real-time subtitle system called Polisubs, which improves disability attention services, making the UPV events and conferences more accessible.
Using this system, users can follow the event by reading the subtitles through an app for mobile devices (IOS and Android), or they can do so on a website on their phone. In the case that the event is recorded, the subtitles are automatically added to the video.
Polisubs receives the ambient sound via a microphone system and sends it to the UPV’s central servers. There, it is processed with an Artificial Intelligence system and a flow of text subtitles is created. It has a quality of 97% compared to a human transcriber, although it can still have comprehension issues for certain individuals. The system works simultaneously in Spanish, Valenciano and English, and is being developed in other languages.
The system was presented last November at the IV International Congress on the University and Disability, organised by the ONCE Foundation for the Inclusion and Social Cooperation of People with Disabilities.
Throughout 2018, the UPV has conducted implementation tests of Polisubs in the university’s main conference halls, with the intention of continuing the deployment in 2019 and aiming to have this technology available in all halls and classrooms.