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Giving a voice to those who find it difficult to speak

Giving a voice to those who find it difficult to speak

This is the goal set by Hadeel Mahrez, a master's student at the Shipagan Campus of the University of Moncton. His efforts recently earned him an award of excellence at an AI conference in Japan.

“I have always loved helping people,” says the graduate of the National Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology in Tunisia.

So she chose to tackle a project that combined her human side with her passion for artificial intelligence.

Therefore, since the summer, Ms. Mehrez and her team at the Laboratory for Human-System Interaction Research (LARIHS) have developed a tool that allows understanding people with speech disorders.

“We were particularly interested in dysarthria, a disorder of motor origin, caused by damage to the nervous system that affects the muscular control of the speech mechanism,” she explains.

By exploiting advances in artificial intelligence, and thanks to the implanted chip, patients can see an improvement in the quality of their speech.

“We don’t know yet exactly where this sound graft will be placed, but it will contain the system that will transform the annoying sound so that it becomes clearer and more intelligible,” the student explains.

Critical tests allow Hadeel Mahrez to be optimistic about the system she and her colleagues are developing.

“This innovative approach offers exciting prospects for improving the communication of individuals affected by these disorders by combining the powerful capabilities of artificial intelligence neural networks with the complex challenges of human communication.”

ICAIIC Excellence Award 2024

Ms Mahrez presented a paper on her research to the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Information and Communications 2024 (or ICAIIC 2024), held in Osaka, Japan, from February 19-22.

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The article was selected for publication and received an Excellence Award.

“It's good news. I'm so happy!” says the woman who works at the University of Shippagan campus.

“It was a source of pride for me, my supervisor, Syed Ahmed Salwani, and Munira Chiani, a doctoral student who worked with me, to learn this evaluation of my article and project by senior researchers and doctoral students familiar with this field.”

Regarding her place at the University of Moncton and in New Brunswick, Hadeel Mehrez says she has received support and a warm welcome in her lab, and wants to stay in the province.

“We're almost a family,” she explained when talking about her team. Everyone is nice and wants to help. “I was able to blend in easily.”

She would also like to highlight the contribution of her team, whom she thanks, as well as the University of Moncton.

“This is a great opportunity for me and it's just the beginning. I want to give it my all, make them even more proud of me, do more projects, send more items and get more prizes. I'm very excited and very proud of this result!”