Most of the Proceedings of the Conferences organised by the VOICE Project, as well as other related papers, are presented in the Events Section.
This activity is performed both for a professional interest in the matter
and a personal experience, as father of a deaf child.
The main aim of the activity is to be the intermediary between two groups' wishes: firstly the JRC, which wishes to address some of its research to the field of people with disability; secondly the associations of people with disability, who need some help to develop systems which will have an important impact.
Both look for Positive Actions, that might be of specific use to them and an important reference for others.
The idea is therefore that of a catalyst, a small aid that produces
The Associations of people with disability have a limited overview of possible technical new solutions and rarely have the opportunity to participate in the feasibility studies of new projects. The hardware, software and services producers hesitate to invest more, since the users' needs are not translated into technical specifications and are sometimes not even known.
What lacks is essentially a better definition, from a technical point of view, of the needs of people with disability to enhance collaborative work between technicians and non-technicians.
This is where I am currently working and where I feel there is an important
need for development.
More particularly, I feel that the technicians and the services providers have an ethical obligation in spreading existing low cost systems, which by minor adjustments may radically change the quality of life of people with disability, allowing their participation to the Information Society.
This is the case of automatic subtitling of conferences and television broadcasts, which allows people with hearing impairment to receive the same information as any other person.
Co-ordinator of the VOICE Project
Giuliano Pirelli is the JRC-ISIS's scientific and technical co-ordinator
of the VOICE Project.
He is well experienced in both the technical field and the problems of the deafness, as indicated in the following lines.
EC official and scientist at JRC-ISIS, graduated in Electronic Engineering in Turin and in Science of Information and Documentation in Brussels, he has worked at FIAT in Turin in the field of simulations of automatic soldering robots and transfer machines, at the EU in Brussels in the field of legal information documentation and retrieval and at JRC-Ispra in the field of education and training.
About 20 years ago, both for professional interest in the matter and personal
experience, as father of a deaf child, he had the opportunity to dedicate
a limited amount of time to collect the available information in this field
in the EC Services as well as in international Organisations or local Associations.
In Brussels he helped the APEDAF Association for the deaf in contacting the
Belgian Telecom for developing a communication system for the deaf, similar
to the French Minitel. In order to overcome cultural differences between different
groups, he suggested and participated to the creation of the TELECONTACT Association,
which achieved good results.
Becoming a reference point both for Associations and for colleagues of the EC Services, he established frequent contacts with the HELIOS Project and a regular, even if informal, collaboration with the COST 219 and 220 Projects (Tele-communications for Disabled People) and with TIDE. They invited him to participate in several meetings and to disseminate information.
Later on, after being transferred to JRC-Ispra, he suggested collaboration
with TIDE: the idea was accepted and an Eurocourse on Information Technology
Aids for People with Special Needs was included in the Eurocourses calendar
of 1993. The aim of the course was to present the state of the art on information
technology aids for people with special needs, with particular attention to
the different aspects of the interdisciplinary activities. The course did
not take place, due to some administrative and practical difficulties, but
he continued to collaborate with some Associations, which could grant funding
for a project in the frame of TIDE (tests of the voice analysis PHONOS system
developed by TXT of Techint Group and in use at the Policlinico of Milan for
the rehabilitation of deaf children).
In the following years, in collaboration with ALFA and CECOEV Associations for the deaf and RAI-Televideo, he helped for the improvement of the existing service of films' subtitling and for the setting up of a new service of live transmissions' subtitling (the morning news started being subtitled on RAI-3 as since January 1996).
Since the beginning of 1996, he is in charge of the JRC-ISIS Exploratory
Research Project Voice to text conversion for the deaf.
Thanks to the experience gained in the first tests, he submitted a proposal for a VOICE Project for a DG-XIII-TIDE Accompanying Measure, which was accepted and founded.
As Scientific Co-ordinator of this project, he organised a series of conferences in order to develop an awareness rising process on the potentialities of voice-to-text recognition systems. Approximately 5000 participants attended to the workshops, in which a prototype of automatic subtitling, developed for this aim, was presented and used to on-line subtitle the speeches, as a demonstration of feisability and a way of validation on the field.
He submitted a proposal for a Netda@ys-VOICE Project for the DG-XXII-Netd@ys
call, which was accepted as an Official Netd@ys Europe 1998 Project, even
if not funded.
In order to extend the field of application, he proposed a further ISIS's Exploratory Research ACCESS Project, which was accepted and was an opportunity for creating contacts with the schools in the field of education of pupils with disability and with the MOISE Project (Socrates - DG-XXII) .
In the frame of this project, he also submitted a proposal for a Netda@ys-ACCESS Project for the DG-XXII-Netd@ys call, which has been accepted as an Official Netd@ys Europe 1999 Project, even if not funded.
At present, in charge of the ISIS's Exploratory Research Project "Development and harmonisation of subtitling in European television broadcasting", in view of activities foreseen for 2003 European Year of People with Disability, in collaboration with the InterService Group on Disability (ISGD), chaired by EC Directorate General Employment.
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Giuliano Pirelli and Davide Ferrazzi .