SAMBA helps mainstream hearing-impaired students

Grenoble-Alpes University IDEX (Initiatives of Excellence) and IRT Nanoelec financed a project to create innovative services to enhance student life. One of their objectives was to help mainstream hearing-impaired university students. Researchers from the University and CEA Tech joined forces to develop a solution combining hardware and software.

Based on an assessment of hearing-impaired students’ needs, the researchers decided to focus on a real-time speech transcription system. The solution developed consists of a compact, modular unit with two displays and a computer installed with the software. The user-centered design is intended as a communication aid used in addition to visual communication and lip reading so as not to interfere with the work of support staff assisting hearing-impaired students.

A prototype of the system, named SAMBA, is currently being evaluated by the Grenoble-Alpes University Community Disability Services Program and has been very well received. It is easy to install and use, and transcribes speech quickly and smoothly. Support staff can correct or add to the transcription in real time. Ultimately, SAMBA could be tested on a wider audience and expanded to other applications like real-time language translation or the subtitling of conversations in noisy environments.