[talks] S Nikolova preFPO

Melissa Lawson mml at CS.Princeton.EDU
Tue Nov 24 09:32:24 EST 2009

Sonya Nikolova will present her preFPO on Wednesday December 2 at 10AM in Room 402.

The members of her committee are:  Perry Cook, advisor; Marilyn Tremaine (Rutgers) and 

Christiane Fellbaum, readers; Adam Finkelstein and Szymon Rusinkiewicz, nonreaders.

is invited to attend her talk.  Her abstract follows below.  


Title and Abstract:

Improving Vocabulary Organization in Assistive Communication Tools: A Mixed-Initiative


Navigating a vocabulary consisting of thousands of entries in order to select appropriate
words for building communication is challenging for individuals with lexical access
disorders like those caused by aphasia, a cognitive disorder. Most existing assistive
communication vocabularies have a lexical organization scheme based on a simple list of
words. Some word collections are organized in hierarchies which often leads to deep and
confusing searches; others are simply a list of arbitrary categories which causes
excessive scrolling and a sense of disorganization. Ineffective vocabulary organization
and navigation hurt the usability and adoption of assistive communication tools and
ultimately fail to help users engage in practical communication.


We have developed a multi-modal visual vocabulary that enables improved navigation and
effective word finding by modeling a speaker's "mental lexicon", where words are stored
and organized in ways that allow efficient access and retrieval. Due to impaired links in
their mental lexicon, people with aphasia have persistent difficulties accessing and
retrieving words that express intended concepts. The Visual Vocabulary for Aphasia (ViVA)
attempts to compensate for some of these missing or impaired semantic connections by
organizing words in a dynamic semantic network where links between words reflect semantic
association measures based on WordNet, human judgments of semantic similarity, and past
vocabulary usage. 


ViVA is both adaptable, able to be customized by the user, and adaptive, able to
dynamically change to better suit users' past actions and future needs. This
mixed-initiative approach enables the user to feel in control by making changes and
anticipating ones that have been initiated by the system while still allowing adaptive
methods to help determine where and when changes are required. ViVA's adaptable component
allows the user to add and remove vocabulary items, and group them in personalized
categories. The adaptive component updates the semantic network according to vocabulary
usage, user preferences, and a number of semantic association measures. Thus, ViVA tailors
the vocabulary organization according to both user-specific information and general
knowledge of human semantic memory. 


We report results from two studies evaluating how ViVA compares to a vocabulary access
system in which words are organized hierarchically into common categories. Since our
target user population is people with cognitive impairments, further work involves
studying the effect of adaptation on users' cognitive load and investigating the tradeoff
between improved navigation and changing vocabulary structure due to adaptation.

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