10/01/2011 to 09/30/2014

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by qualitative impairment in
communication and stereotyped repetitive behaviour. People with ASD have deficits in comprehension of speech and
writing including misinterpretation of literal meanings and difficulty understanding complex instructions. They are
confused by idioms, figures of speech, abstractions, uncommon words and lack of precision.
The main objective of the FIRST project is to implement, deploy, and evaluate technology to support the authoring of
accessible content for users with ASD with a view to widening inclusion and empowerment in Europe. The technology
will convert documents that users wish to access into a personalised form facilitating reading comprehension. The
conversion process will involve automatically detecting linguistic features in the input document that are likely to impede
comprehension and automatically removing those obstacles while preserving as much of the original meaning of the
document as possible. Language technology (LT) will be implemented to remove obstacles to comprehension caused by
the structural complexity and ambiguity in meaning of written documents.
The implemented technology will be evaluated with respect to the accessibility of the personalised documents that it
generates by means of reading comprehension testing. The usability of the system by people with ASD and
intermediaries will be evaluated, and a qualitative research methodology employed to assess the contribution to inclusion
resulting from use of the FIRST technology.
The project is expected to make an impact on the quality of life of autistic people, improving their access to educational,
vocational, cultural, and social opportunities in Europe. The project consortium, in collaboration with a user group of
organisations involved in education and care of people with ASD, will ensure that project results are disseminated widely
and effectively to interested stakeholders.

The specific S&T objectives of the FIRST project are to:
1. derive a detailed and accurate description of the requirements of users with reading difficulties (WP1).
This will enable an adequate specification of the core LT to be implemented in the project.
2. implement core LT capable of converting input documents into a personalised form facilitating
reading comprehension.
3. deploy the LT in scenarios demonstrating its use by end users and intermediaries and to evaluate it in
terms of its efficacy, its usability, its impact on reading comprehension, and its impact on inclusion.

Foresight methods and tools
  1. University of Wolverhampton (United Kingdom)
Geographical Area:
European Union