I am a 3rd year PhD Candidate in the School of Information Studies at McGill University, supervised by Karyn Moffatt, and member of the ACT Lab. My doctoral work focuses on improving the usability of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for people with aphasia through an adaptive and context-aware user interface.
My ongoing goal is to make valuable contribution both to the academic field and to society, helping people to overcome the barriers in their daily lives that prevent them from performing fundamental activities. Current goals involve improving my knowledge regarding human computer interaction and the underlying aspects of assistive technologies, creating network within research community and health institutes, and contributing to the development of novel technologies.
Before joining McGill, I completed my Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where I worked on a service personalization system for smart homes under supervision of Carlos Eduardo Pereira.
What is my research about?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
It is estimated that 120,000 people in Canada and two million in the USA are living with aphasia, a communication disorder mostly seen in older adults that limit their ability to being understood and to participate independently in society.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices can enhance communication and support the social interactions of people with complex communication needs, including those with aphasia, by providing a visual representation of words and phrases and by speaking desired sentences through a synthesized voice.
Issues with current AAC devices
Communication with AAC devices is extremely slow, especially for older adults with acquired communication impairments who have high expectations for communication. This enormous disparity leads to brief and delayed communication acts as well as difficult interpersonal interactions.
This issue is mainly due to the difficulties in organizing the extensive vocabulary needed for the generation of spontaneous utterances in a manner that allows the user to easily find and select appropriate words when communicating.
Since most users of AAC devices have difficulty with written language, alphabetical organization is not possible. Instead, vocabulary items are usually organized in a static hierarchy of categories that requires a high number of keystrokes and imposes a high cognitive load during navigation.
My research aims to improve the communication performance of people with aphasia relying on AAC through a context-adaptive AAC application, designed to facilitate access to a vocabulary relevant to the user's current context (e.g. buying groceries, talking about a past event).
Differently from previous approaches, the proposed application will generate vocabulary automatically tailored to user's current needs, not requiring the user to manually pre-assign vocabulary items to specific categories.