The difficulties of the deaf go beyond the loss of hearing itself, and underline a more general problem of lack of communication. Help in reducing the gap between the deaf and the hearing world should be enforced. Automatic recognition of speech in conferences and school lessons, with their translation into PC screen messages, could be a powerful help for the deaf. The use of the Internet as a communication tool and its pedagogic value should be encouraged.
Also other users could benefit of this technology: people with communication problems, foreigners or immigrated persons studying the host country's language or any person studying foreign languages. The final goal is broader than the technical aspects related to speech recognition. The aim is that of a large awareness campaign on the problems encounter by students with special needs in the school and in the society, in everyday aspects of their life.
These objectives correspond to those of the EC-JRC-ISIS Exploratory Research VOICE Project (which is reaching its end) and also of the proposed EC-DG-XIII-TIDE VOICE Project (whose activities are starting now). Since all the Partners of the two VOICE Projects are conscious of the important role of the schools in this field, they wish to join the EC-DG-XXII-NETD@YS Europe 1998's objective of spreading information and encouraging the use of the Internet in the schools, on technical or social themes.
A proposal for a NETD@YS-VOICE Project has been submitted and has been accepted by the NETD@YS Evaluation Committee as an Official Netda@ys Europe 1998 Project, but not funded. In other words, DG-XXII will offer to our Project the visibility that they are preparing for the NETD@YS week, 17 to 24 October, by means of communications to schools, newspapers, television and the Internet.
Due to budget limits, we will not be able to perform some of the specific proposed actions, as a videoconference between schools using the subtitling prototype for the deaf (an example of which may be seen in the picture on a presentation of the VOICE Project at a schools meeting). Nevertheless, we will work for a larger visibility over the Internet, by improving the VOICE Web site and adding information intended for the participants to the NETD@YS week.